Friday, October 23, 2009

Worthwhile Workshops

I am sitting here in beautiful Palm Springs at one of my favorite conferences of the year - CSTA. This got me thinking about the best workshops I have attended. Here are my favorite the three that I felt were most organized, inspirational and worth the money!

Steve Spangler's Boot Camp
(K - 8, multiple locations): I have pined after Steve Spangler's Science in the Rockies for years, but had the opportunity to attend the more economical Boot Camp this fall in Chicago. It was wonderful. He is a businessman and comedian, but a teacher at heart. His presentations were concise, engaging and taught solid science concepts. Plus, you get a whole box of fun stuff to take home! The workshops should head west in the spring.

Project WET (CA) - There are various workshops offered throughout California. Upon completion of the workshop, participants get the Project WET Curriculum and Activity Guide. (The ONLY way you can get the book is through the workshop.) It covers chemistry and conservation topics around water and is truly outstanding. I was fortunate to take the workshop with Kathy Machado at the Santa Clara Valley Water District. She was an excellent facilitator, takes pride in the extensive work she has done at the Water District, and is able to offer the books for free. Her next workshop is March 5, 2010 and I can highly recommend her presentation. (All Project WET workshops are free, but some districts charge for the book.)

4-H Embryology
(Northern CA) - This was quite a drive up from San Francisco, but it was well worth it. June Stewart teaches a two-hour (free) Embryology class in Auburn, CA. I have never met anyone as passionate about and dedicated to teaching embryology as this woman. The workshop is generally in mid-February, and at that time you can order or pick up rented incubators, fertile eggs, and curriculum materials. These are not materials you will shove in a file cabinet somewhere. I used everything and my students enjoyed the experience immensely. I was terrified to hatch birds for the first time, but the program alleviated all of my fears. June is available by phone for any questions and the Extension office will take any un-adopted birds back for up to one year and place them in homes with local 4-H kids.

These are my top three. What's your favorite national or local gem?