Washington DC: NEHA

July 9-11, 2013. NEHA is the National Environmental Health Association, and their AEC (or Annual Educational Conference and Exhibition) was the nexus for environmental health training, education, networking, and advancement.  This was the event environmental health professionals attended to acquire practical and real-world information and expertise.  There were opportunities to share knowledge, gain new insights into environmental health issues, and return home with a fresh perspective from newly encountered colleagues and friends.  NEHA continues to  pursue ways in which to “green” the AEC. At the 2013 event, they continued in this effort with initiatives including creating awareness and providing training to exhibitors about ways they might help reduce waste.  They even distributed eco-friendly name badge ribbons.  Hey, how green can an Environmental Health Association get…?

Kansas City: School Nutrition

July 14-17, 2013. This gathering was hosted by SNA, the School Nutrition Association.  SNA’s Annual National Conference touts itself as the school nutrition event of the year.  Thousands of school nutrition professionals from across the country gathered for four days of informative sessions and thought-provoking exhibits.  Budgets were an issue widely discussed.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service recently released a notice announcing adjustments to the “national average payments,” in other words the amount of money the Federal Government provides States for the lunches, afterschool snacks and breakfasts served to children participating in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. Hence a program of taste-testing.  School nutrition professionals sampled healthy foods and beverages, and previewed equipment and service options to help school cafeterias prepare meals and snacks that meet the new federal nutrition standards.  Okay, who’s going to say grace…?

Las Vegas: BbWORLD + DEVCON

July 8-10, 2013. BbWorld + DEVCON is about education, and “Bb” stands for “blackboard”.  Sign of the times: BbWorld keynoter Katie Blot announced that Blackboard now offers a free, flexible option for running massive open online courses (MOOCs) hosted by Blackboard Learn. With more institutions looking to offer large open courses, the offer gives institutions a fully functional, flexible platform option complete with social learning capabilities and a wide range of course management and student engagement features.  Instructors and institutions will now be able to harness student data to identify learners in danger of falling behind or dropping out through a new Blackboard Analytics capability. The new feature compliments a recent update to Blackboard Learn that gives instructors insight into at-risk student behavior by using various analytic functions, such as a sudden drop in GPA, to determine which students might be at risk.  Oh, and this “blackboard” doesn’t set your teeth on edge when you scrape chalk down it…

Chicago: American Library Association – ALA

June 29 – July 2, 2013. ALA is the American Library Association, and the show was all about “transforming our libraries, transforming ourselves”.  This turned out to involve ALA conference programs, updates, conversations and other events covering key issues, such as digital content and e-books, technology in libraries, innovation, books, leadership, library advocacy, community engagement, and library marketing.  Janis Ian was there to say that “Libraries and librarians saved my life, and I would not be the person, or writer, I am without them.”  Ian, who started playing the piano at age two and is now in her fifth decade of writing songs, poetry and prose and performing, recently beat out President Bill Clinton, Rachel  Maddow and Ellen DeGeneres for the 2013 Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album for her audiobook “Society’s Child.” She thinks artists are “the last Alchemists, pulling your dreams, your hopes, your deepest desires out of thin air, and turning them into something you can hear, and play, and sing.”   Maybe ALA really means Artistic Lady Alchemists…

San Antonio: ISTE

June 23-26, 2013. The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) is billed as the premier membership association for educators engaged in improving learning and teaching by advancing the effective use of technology in teacher education. ISTE represents more than 100,000 education leaders and emerging leaders throughout the world. Members include individuals, affiliate organizations, and corporations to the tune of 18,500 individual members from more than 80 countries worldwide, 80 affiliate organizations, six affiliate regions and 60 corporations worldwide.  ISTE membership, we heard, is a powerful and meaningful way for educators to gather in a variety of forums to share the challenges and excitement of teaching, and to be part of a community that leads the transformation of education.  The event attracts upwards of 18,000 from all over the globe including teachers, technology coordinators, administrators, library media specialists, teacher educators, and policy makers.  Just being there was quite an ‘education’ in itself…

San Antonio: NSTA

April 11-14, 2013. NSTA is the National Science Teachers Association, and they have been  bringing science educators together for more than 50 years.  People came to discover methods and strategies for improving science learning and teaching, facilitate professional discussions,
and gather the latest information regarding science education.  This year’s theme was “Next Generation Science: learning, literacy and living”.  Different conference strands focused on Next Generation Assessments: Effectively Measuring Student Learning;  Next Generation Elementary Science: Building the Foundation;  Next Generation Special Populations: Meeting the Needs of Diverse Learners;  Next Generation Technology: Putting the “T” in STEM.  The conference committee worked to develop a series of sessions and presentations geared to stimulating professional growth, motivate a sense of inquiry, and promote lifelong learning.  Sounds like science is actually something of an art…

Philadelphia: PittCon

March 17-21, 2013. Pittcon is the world’s largest annual premier conference and exposition on laboratory science. It is organized by The Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy, a Pennsylvania not-for-profit educational corporation comprised of the Spectroscopy Society of Pittsburgh (SSP) and the Society for Analytical Chemists of Pittsburgh (SACP).  Pittcon typically attracts more than 17,000 attendees from industry, academia and government, from 90 countries worldwide. Proceeds from the show fund science education and outreach at all levels, from kindergarten through adult.  The organization donates more than a million dollars a year to provide financial and administrative support for various science outreach activities, including science equipment grants, research grants, scholarships and internships for students, awards to teachers and professors, and grants to public science centers, libraries and museums.  Educational…!