FLATE Presents at the Annual Florida Association of Science Teachers (FAST) Conference in St. Pete. Beach

FLATE’s Nina Stokes, and Mark Dick, an instructor at Tallahassee Community College, gave a presentation at last week’s Florida Association of Science Teachers (FAST) conference at the beautiful Tradewinds Resort on St. Petersburg Beach. The Florida Association of Science Teachers (FAST) is the state's largest non-profit professional organization dedicated to improving science education at all levels, pre-school through college. The association's membership includes science teachers, science supervisors, administrators, scientists, representatives of business and industry, and others interested in science education.

Their presentation, titled “Energy Camps that are Energizing”, highlighted energy camps and teacher energy workshops held at Hillsborough and Tallahassee Community Colleges as a part of the National Science Foundation-funded Energy systems Technology Technicians (EST2) Project. The EST2 Project Team also comprises individuals from Brevard Community College and Florida State College at Jacksonville. Energy camps and teacher workshops were offered simultaneously at all four institutes last summer.

The FAST annual conference for science educators emphasizes excellence and highlights outstanding programs, innovative teaching techniques, research findings, as well as new materials and equipment. Make-and-take workshops and interactive, hands-on sessions are a major component too. Nina and Mark’s presentation dovetailed perfectly with the conference’s focus. Their presentation concentrated on providing participants with all the resources necessary to design, organize and host their own energy camp (or energy teacher workshop). Logistics, partners, funding, content, activities, equipment needed, transportation and food were just a few of the areas covered. Lessons learned from their experiences were shared, along with ways they planned to enhance their camps next year, based on suggestions and requests obtained from student and teacher evaluations.
As the production of renewable energy continues to grow, professional development opportunities like the FAST conference and, on a smaller scale, teacher energy workshops, will be essential to provide teachers with the tools they need to educate tomorrow’s citizens about issues that will directly impact their lives in the future. Kids’ camps like the ones described in Nina and Mark’s presentation can spark students’ interest and “hook” them into STEM subjects - get them excited about learning concepts that they might have once thought were “way too hard”. They also serve to introduce them to the growing number of high tech energy-related careers available.

In an effort to increase “Green” Professional Development activities, FLATE, in partnership with the Florida Energy Systems Consortium (FESC) and the Florida Solar Energy (FSEC) Center in Cocoa, will be hosting an Energy Workshop for Community College and High School instructors on January 25, 2013. The Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) was created by the Florida Legislature in 1975 to serve as the state’s energy research institute. The main responsibilities of the center are to conduct research, test and certify solar systems and develop education programs. Penny Hall of FSEC gave a super presentation about solar cookers and how to build them, to a packed audience at the FAST conference. The January workshop will be held at the FSEC facility and will include a make-and-take professional development activity, as well as a tour. For more information about FSEC, please visit www.fsec.ucf.edu/en/ and to learn more about the workshop, or for a copy of the presentation, please contact Nina Stokes, FESC Project Manager, at stokes@fl-ate.org.