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E.L.I.P.S.E. conference to spark science educators' interest

Kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers from across the region will learn how to conduct hands-on activities Jan. 25 during the Experiential Learning and Inquiry for Physical Science Educators (E.L.I.P.S.E.) conference at the University of North Georgia's (UNG) Gainesville Campus.

Shooting off rubber bands in a classroom may seem unusual, but not when teachers use the activity to demonstrate concepts to educate students and spark their interest in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

More than 100 kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers will learn how to conduct hands-on activities during the Experiential Learning and Inquiry for Physical Science Educators (E.L.I.P.S.E.) conference at the University of North Georgia's (UNG) Gainesville Campus in Oakwood, Georgia. The sixth annual conference will be 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 25 with the welcome and keynote speech in the Student Center and panel sessions and presentations in the Science Building.

Registration is $5 for members of the Georgia Science Teachers Association (GSTA) or $10 for nonmembers. It covers the costs for a T-shirt, lunch and door prizes. To register, visit the GSTA website.

"UNG hosts this conference to be a resource for teachers in the northeast Georgia region, because it can be hard for kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers to receive professional development in the science field at an affordable price," said Dr. David Osmond, assistant professor of science education at UNG and one of the event's organizers. "Through this conference we can build a network of science educators."

UNG junior Lorena Espinosa hopes to capitalize on meeting veteran teachers at the conference before she begins her student-teaching program in fall 2020. The 21-year-old from Gainesville, Georgia, is pursuing a degree in elementary and special education.

"I've heard being a first-year teacher is probably the hardest transition to make," Espinosa said. She hopes to connect with a current teacher who would act as a mentor. "As a new teacher, I want to have a mentor who has gone through the same trials. You don't want to feel like you're going into education by yourself."

Kathryn Mullen, who teaches eighth-grade physical science for Gwinnett County Public Schools, said she attends the conference to share her knowledge with fellow educators as well as return with new ideas.

"I rarely walk away from a conference without feeling I've learned something that I can use in my classroom," she said. "There is always a reference or good ideas from other people in the room."

Participants will leave the conference full of information ranging from engineering to energy and astronomy to climate science as well as with an array of goodies. Presenters will distribute handouts, tools and demonstration materials for teachers to use in their own classrooms.

"This is not a lecture conference," Osmond said. "We supply our teachers with the materials they need."

E.L.I.P.S.E. 6.0 also aims to rejuvenate science teachers.

"This conference can help educators remember why we love science, especially if they may feel a little burned out this time of year," Osmond said.


When: 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25

Where: Science, Engineering and Technology Building, University of North Georgia's Gainesville Campus, 3820 Mundy Mill Road, Oakwood, Georgia

Cost: $5 for Georgia Science Teachers Association (GSTA) members, $10 for nonmembers, including public and private school teachers and homeschool educators

More information:

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