Story last updated at 10/7/2009 - 11:37 am
JUNEAU - Teaching math and science often involves helping students see the connections between different parts of the world around us.
Math and science teachers of Juneau will have opportunities to make all kinds of connections themselves at the 2009 Alaska Math & Science Conference, which is being held in Juneau for the first time Oct. 14-17.
This is a great - and fairly rare - opportunity for Juneau teachers, said Linda Frame, the science co-chair of the conference. The school district doesn't often have the funds to send teachers away to conferences such as this one, which typically take place in Anchorage or Fairbanks.
"All of our teachers are going to be able to benefit from this," Frame said, not just math and science teachers. All Juneau School District teachers will be attending the conference.
There will be participants from all over the state, from as far away as Bethel and Barrow. Just as the conference is a great opportunity for Juneau teachers, other Southeast school districts are also taking advantage of relatively close venue, with quite a few teachers coming from Haines, Sitka, and Ketchikan.
"I think it's a wonderful opportunity for teachers to network with each other and find out what's going on in the state," said Bev Smith, the conference math co-chair.
In addition to opportunities to network with other elementary and high school teachers throughout the state, there will be facilitated discussions between high school teachers and university professors about the transition between high school and college level math, in an attempt to better prepare students for the challenges ahead.
"We hope it's a kick-off for a continuing discussion," Smith said.
There will also be an industry panel, in which educators can hear about opportunities for internships for students or externships for teachers in a variety of local industries, including fish processing, mining, and energy.
Smith said teachers often are looking for something they can use in their classrooms right away, and though they may come away with ideas for novel lesson plans, the purpose of the conference is broader than that.
"A lot of this is just for their own knowledge and personal growth," she said.
The goal is to help teachers, and in turn their students, understand the connections in the natural world.
"Science literacy is an important concept for every member of our society," Frame said.
"And you can't really do the science that well without the math," Smith added.
The whole community is invited to a public lecture by Dr. Stephen P. Maran of the American Astronomical Society in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Oct. 14 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the JDHS Auditorium. Maran, the author of twelve books, including "Astronomy for Dummies" and "Galileo's New Universe: The Revolution in Our Understanding of the Cosmos," will contrast Galileo's discoveries with our current knowledge of space.
If parents or community members want to attend any of the other conference presentations, they can for a nominal charge, Smith said, adding that they can stop at the registration table during the conference for more information.
The conference is sponsored by the Alaska Department of Education & Early Development, BP Alaska, Delta Education FOSS, Exxon Mobil, the Juneau School District and the University of Alaska Southeast.
For more information about the conference, visit the Web site http://www.aksta.org/.