Before we started on this adventure, I spent a few days in Washington, DC working with a wonderful group of chemistry teachers that I have had the pleasure to know for over a dozen years. We were preparing presentations for this fall’s National Science Teachers Association Area Conferences. Given the Phase I Gap Year schedule (i.e. almost four months in Europe), I could only attend the final of these conferences, which took place in Long Beach December 4th-6th.
Since I had not looked at or thought about these presentations (or even science education) since summer, it was by necessity an immersive experience. Both Thursday and Friday, I spent some time working at the American Chemical Society booth on the Exhibit Hall floor. It was wonderful to talk to so many science teachers and hear their excitement about what they do every day. My colleagues and I gave two presentations to packed rooms, which appeared to be typical for this well-attended conference. Adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards in California has resulted in many teachers who are hungry for strategies that they can use to help their students meet these new expectations. I hope that we were able to provide at least a few hints and point people to some of the useful resources that exist.
Doing a small bit of professional work really got me thinking about next steps. Sadly, I don’t know whether I am any closer to a plan. I do know that both creative expression and making a positive contribution must be central to whatever I do.
Aside from the work itself, we got to stay in a really nice hotel (several steps up from hostels and Econo Lodges) and had some tasty meals. We enjoyed seafood Thursday night at King’s Fish House and Lebanese food Friday night (with the whole ACS crew) at the Magic Lamp. We also had breakfast one morning on the dog-friendly patio at The Breakfast Bar. And the weather was great. All-in-all, this was a positive way to start Phase II of this Gap Year adventure.