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Many thanks to Geek Girl Con 2013 for hosting this panel discussing “The Changing Role of Characters of Color in Scifi/Horror” with panelists @DrRubidium, @DNLee5, @sargent, @GermanCityGirl, and @Lalsox.
We’d love to continue the discussion, so post your comments here to talk to the panelists and one another.  Thanks for attending and for the great conversation!
(Aside: apologies for the weird quality of the embedded Tweets.  That is a Storify thing. If you know how to fix it, please let me know!)

My read-a-long of My Beloved Brontosaurus culminated in a Hangout On Air with the author, Brian Switek, who patiently answered my questions on dinosaurs, evolution, extinction, and fossils.  I want to give a big thanks to Brian and to everyone else that participated in the #dinochat on Twitter.

I especially liked the conversational tone of the book.  Switek devotes as much time to his personal journey in learning about dinosaurs as to the science of their discovery and study.  His laugh-out-load commentary reminds me that dinosaurs occupy a very special place in our childhood fascination with the natural world.  Dinosaurs are a wellspring of questions, no matter how many discoveries are made. They lend themselves to storytelling and wonder.  I was so glad to be able to read an advance copy and I will definitely be ordering this for my library at home.

My Beloved Brontosaurus is available for pre-order on Amazon, and is out on April 16th!

Image via Amazon.com

I’ve just returned from Science Online 2013 with a galley proof of Brian Switek‘s new book, My Beloved Brontosaurus.

From Amazon.com:

“Switek reunites us with these mysterious creatures as he visits desolate excavation sites and hallowed museum vaults, exploring everything from the sex life of Apatosaurus and T. rex’s feather-laden body to just why dinosaurs vanished. (And of course, on his journey, he celebrates the book’s titular hero, “Brontosaurus”—who suffered a second extinction when we learned he never existed at all—as a symbol of scientific progress.”

I dove into the book on the plane ride home, and I’m loving it! So, I am inviting fellow SciO13 attendees who snagged a copy (and anyone else with a copy, for that matter) to join me in a read-along on Twitter. Whether you’re at home, or on a mobile device, you can join in the conversation and share your thoughts about the book.

Here’s how it works:

  • I’ll post a schedule, below, for discussion of each chapter. You can read ahead, but don’t tweet ahead so that we don’t spoil it for each other! (Don’t worry, I will send out reminders on Twitter.)
  • Each week, we’ll have an hour to tweet and chat about the reading together. I’ll pick different days and times to try to accommodate everyone.
  • Don’t worry if you can’t make it during the scheduled time.  Feel free to continue the conversation throughout the week, and I will Storify our discussion of each chapter!
  • Use the hashtag #dinochat to discuss the book. Search the hashtag to see what others are saying about it.

Brian has graciously agreed to do a G+ Hangout with the Mad Scientist Book Club at the end of the read. Watch the #dinochat hastag for the date as we get closer to the end of the book. If you don’t have a copy of the book and would like to pre-order it, you can do that at Amazon.com. You can also check out Brian’s work at National Geographic and Slate.

Reading Schedule:

Tuesday, Feb. 5 @ 7pm EST: Prologue (yes, that’s tomorrow!)

Monday, Feb. 11 @ 8pm EST: Chapters 1 & 2

Sunday, Feb. 17 @ 4pm EST: Chapters 3 & 4

Tuesday, Feb. 26 @ 9pm EST: Chapters 5 & 6

Wednesday, March 6 @9pm EST: Chapters 7 & 8

Saturday, March 16 @ 12 NOON EST: Chapters 9, 10, & Epilogue

Please comment, let me know if there are any errors in the schedule. Happy Reading!!

Links to Storify Posts: 

#Dinochat – Chapters 1 & 2

#Dinochat – Chapters 3 & 4

#Dinochat – Chapters 5 & 6

#Dinochat – Chapters 7 & 8 – Coming soon!

#Dinochat – Chapters 9 & 10 – Coming soon!

It’s the 10th of the month, and Science Online 2013 is looming.  When registration came around in the fall, I was lamenting how long I’d have to wait, but suddenly it is here and when I realized it this morning I had a moment of panic.

I have the good fortune of moderating a session this year with @cogscilibrarian.  I’ll be talking with science communicators and educators about the role of social media in science education.  Social media (facebook, twitter, blogs, etc.) present some challenges for teachers.  Students in high school and college are immersed in it and are developing a particular language and fluidity for communicating with it.  Teachers and professors (not all digital natives) have an opportunity to use social media to foster a culture of science communication in and out of the classroom, but what is the best approach?

Is there research that supports the use of social media in classes?  What pedagogical methods would be best?  Are the students even open to the idea of tweeting with their professors?

Check out the session description below.  I’d love to hear your thoughts in advance of the session!  Follow #TagAcad to join in the conversation on Twitter.

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#Hashtags in the academy: Engaging students with social media

Lali DeRosier and Stephanie Willen Brown

Description: What is the role of social media in the high school and undergraduate classroom? Is it possible to engage students with Web 2.0 tools in ways that meaningfully support learning? Talk to other educators to share strategies, successes, and failures. If you aren’t using social media to teach, what would make you start? We’ll start with some data about what social media is being used by “kids these days” and move on to a discussion about what’s worked and what hasn’t in the classroom. We’ll also discuss the importance of social media for our students, in and out of the classroom, and looking forward to their professional lives.

Questions:

  • Do you use social media to engage with your students?
  • What was your biggest social media success in the classroom? Failure?
  • To what extent should social media be embedded in curriculum? Or used to supplement the curriculum?
  • Are some social media tools more academic than others?
  • How can we help students navigate their personal vs. academic / professional personas?
  • How important is social media to our students’ future? As they consider jobs and/or graduate school?
  • How does social media advance the content of the courses?
  • Does social media improve the efficiency of communication?

In July of this year, in preparation for a shift to a one-to-one laptop teaching environment, I went to the  Lausanne Laptop Institute, hosted by the Lausanne Collegiate School in Memphis, Tennessee.

The Lausanne Laptop Institute …is an international think tank for schools using or considering laptops or tablets as tools for learning. Created and hosted by Lausanne Collegiate School in Memphis, Tennessee, the Lausanne Laptop Institute offers over 100 breakout sessions – from hands-on events to lectures, discussions and networking. Conference sessions meet the needs of educators, technology integrationists, technology support personnel and administration….  Over half those attending are K-12 teachers who collaborate with peers and learn tips for using laptops and tablets in their own classrooms. (source)

Feeling inundated with ideas and information (like you do, after a con), I drafted my thoughts immediately.  I figured I would polish it up on the flight home and post it, but it’s been sitting in my editing queue for a month.  As a result of the conference, I had some great conversations with colleagues on the way home, but have had trouble distilling my thoughts into a coherent post.

Let me say, at the outset, that I see the shift to one-to-one as an opportunity.  I’m excited about it, and my students are too.  I am certain there will be frustrations and failed lessons along the way, but I’m eager to try it.  To this point, my school has been technology forward, yet granting individual teachers the flexibility to integrate technology as each saw fit.  We’ve had lots of toys at our disposal.  Being a fledgling one-to-one school, I had some anxiety about the transition away from traditional instruction, but I had high expectations that this conference would help me craft the direction for my one-to-one planning.

The conference is in it’s 10th year.  There’s an app, which is pretty slick.  The ability to look over the session schedules on the fly, and to craft a schedule from my phone, was a plus.  There was also a rating function for the sessions, and links to various presentation files throughout the weekend.  Overall, I was impressed with the organization.  Logistically, it is quite a feat to transport, feed, and schedule that many people.

The very first session I attended happened to be given by Ben Goodrich, from the Institute spotlight school, Montclair Kimberley Academy.  Titled, “Don’t Use It Unless You Mean It,” they presented a balanced mix of educational philosophy and practical application, as well as some questions that schools proposing a one-to-one program should collectively address.  They emphasized strongly the need to establish common goals among the faculty for student learning.  This seems obvious for educational environments, but it is too easy to get caught up in the logistics of deploying 800 computers on campus, and to forget about the pedagogical reasons why this is a better approach to pencil and paper.  We want our students to become fluent users of technology, naturally.  But we were also reminded that the goal of one-to-one learning is to have better conversations with students.  How can I work with my fellow teachers to reinforce lessons in this new learning environment?  Does the product we create with the technology contribute to the process of learning?  Are the students simply using tools or are they building skills?  I left this session very excited to hear experienced one-to-one teachers voicing the kind of big-picture questions that I had been contemplating.  I was looking forward to having some of those questions answered in other sessions.

In a majority of the sessions I attended, there was big effort to sell the idea that laptops in the classroom are THE answer.  I’ve got news for you, Presenters. If we’re here, we’ve already bought it.  Every single school at the conference was already implementing a one-to-one program, or had one imminent.  Gathering the resources, expertise, and personnel for a one-to-one program is a huge undertaking.  Once that train gets going, there’s realistically no stopping it.  As a professional, I don’t need cheerleaders to reassure me that what I’m doing is right – particularly not when the undertaking is on the scale of a school-wide change in instruction.  My own administrators have done a really good job with that already, and it isn’t as if I can opt out.  I had hoped to come away from the conference armed with realistic expectations and some achievable goals.  The presence of so many people immersed in one-to-one teaching should have been a gold mine of resources.  Instead I felt that I had just lived through a very posh infomercial.

Sessions were tracked by roles within the school (admin, teacher, tech support, etc.), with a very comprehensive offering for each area.  As I went through my sessions, however, I was struck by the spectrum of experience among the people in the room.  At one session on blogging, there were people who have used blogging extensively with their students, teachers who are only beginning to develop blogging as a curriculum (like me), and also folks who are unclear on what an “account” is on a website and why you might need to have one.

Separating attendees by experience level would go a long way towards improving the “take away” from each talk.  Schools function rather like an organism.  Medications to treat your ear infection will also affect your gut flora.  The chocolate that triggers pleasure associations in your brain will also contribute to the adipose tissue of your waistline.  So too, when implementing a school-wide change, it is imperative to consider how those projects will affect schools in all areas.  In the case of one-to-one teaching, the technology isn’t being deployed one “system” at a time.  The admins, techs, and teachers are experiencing the change together.  Rather than track sessions by job description, it makes more sense to track sessions by experience level.  A noob-track for schools that are pre-implementation.  First-year, 2-5 years, 5+ years, etc.  There seems to be a set of skills that all schools just beginning to work in a one-to-one environment will need to acquire and a common set of obstacles they will encounter.  Given the costs associated with professional development, it is also likely that not every department in a school will be represented at a conference.  Attendees in a cohort grouping would be better equipped to return to their schools and share information broadly.  Additionally, a “sand-box” area should also be available where attendees can generate accounts for services and get help adjusting settings before instructional sessions begin.  Having informal places to play and get individualized help would encourage teachers to explore and generate content while at the conference.

I can’t complain about the availability of online resources.  Most presenters provided links and sites for us, should we feel like reviewing all the links (and links, and links!).  There were a few sessions that stood out with good content.  In particular, Matt Harris, from the German European School Singapore, gave a wonderful talk about the connection between educational research and the “essential questions” surrounding one-to-one learning environments.  Jeff Whipple, a proponent of personal branding online and blogging in the classroom, gave a lovely survey of the kinds of blogging projects teachers are doing.  The Evernote panel, also hosted by the spotlight school, carried just the right blend of practical information and pedagogical rationale.

Ultimately, this balance is what I had been hoping to find throughout the Institute.  I was looking for a taxonomy of links and ideas.  People have been using one-to-one instruction for over a decade.  I wanted to connect with the experts, and to talk about more than just tools and tricks.  I see one-to-one learning as more than just exchanging a pencil for a cursor.  In trying to serve noobs and pros, alike, most of the sessions were disappointing.  The Institute describes itself as a “think tank,” but delivers more as a viewing gallery of one-to-one teaching.

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Special thanks to @costelloland, for the quick beta.

As always, comments are welcome.  If you have experience with the Lausanne Laptop Institute, or if you teach in a one-to-one environment, I’d particularly like to hear from you.

A Request to Visiting Alumni

Dear Alumni,

When you come to visit us on campus, tell me your name.

What? Don’t I remember you?  Yes, of course I do.

The time you stuck the metal forceps into the electrical outlet to see how deep it was, resulting in the shorting out of the entire classroom and your near-electrocution?  I will never forget it.

The time I had to yell at you to come down off the roof of the foreign language building because a plastic frisbee was not worth your life? I remember that.

The time you guiltily asked me whether someone might possibly get sick and die from peeling paint off the Rock in the middle of the Quad and eating it? How could I possibly forget?

The time you passed out during the birth video because you forgot to breathe.  The time you passed out during the cat dissection when a rib snapped.  The time you passed out at the microscope for no reason at all.  I remember.

Also, the time that you finally got an A on a Biology test, and you flashed a smile for a nanosecond – the only one I saw that year? I remember that too.

When you came to my class after school to ask for an extension, and brought two friends for moral support.  I remember.

When you stared anxiously at your Planaria for half an hour, worried that it wouldn’t survive the regeneration experiment.  I remember.

Your theater roles.  Your dance routines.  The pictures from your equestrian tournament.  Prom.  Asking me to proof your forensics speech.  Looking over your college essays.  Of course I remember.

But the only thing worse than forgetting a former student’s name is calling an alumnus by the wrong name.  You see, I’ve got 85 current students popping in and out of my class all day, expecting me to remember their missed assignments, make-up tests, extra credit, absence counts, and early dismissals.  It’s a full time job, I tell you.  Please, please, please, don’t be offended if you swing by for a visit and your name doesn’t fly out of my mouth in exclamation.    Has it been two years since you graduated?  Ten years?  Sometimes it is hard to remember the chronology.  Sometimes, your name is on the tip of my tongue, but I hesitate because I’m afraid I’m remembering the wrong name out of the thousand I have learned in the last decade.  If you’ll recall, in class, I always tried to give you context.

So please, return the favor.  Unless you want to be relegated to “Sweetie” from now until the end of my carreer, come in to my class and say, “Hi, it’s _____ !”  And I will be ever so grateful.

Fondly,

Your Increasingly Aged Teacher

It’s a boring drive to the Keys.  The sameness of mile after concrete mile of the turnpike as it winds its way through the flat Florida landscape is hypnotic.  Suburban sprawl punctuated with strip malls. Big box stores. Billboards.  Scrub.

© RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Program

I’ve done this drive many times, but never with a vanload of teenagers.  On a Friday afternoon, after a long day of school, my students, together with fellow teacher Deb, and I piled into two vehicles, fortified ourselves with caffeine, and headed out to the Keys for a shark-tagging expedition.  David Shiffman, whom I met at Science Online, is a researcher with the RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Program (RJD).  He was kind enough to invite me to bring some students out to spend the day on the water with him and his crew to tag sharks for research.  Partnered with the University of Miami, RJD promotes conservation efforts, marine research, and education.  Through outreach, both online and in the field, they educate the public and seek to foster conservationist attitudes while providing opportunities for engaging, educational science research. That’s a mouthful, but what it meant to my kids is they’d have a chance to spend a day on the open sea, handling live sharks.  What could possibly be cooler? (I’ll save you some time.  Nothing).

The group of students I took have diverse interests.  Some are avid sport fishermen, looking for a new experience.  Others have college dreams of marine biology or marine ecology, and were eager to get a taste of work in the field.  Still others had no idea what to expect, but couldn’t pass up the chance to see a big fish up close.  Whether it was  a first step on the path of a dream career or part of a quest for the coolest Facebook profile pic ever, the kids were excited, and I was too.

In high school, I did trips like this.  A five-day field trip with the SEA Education Association introduced me to oceanography in the field.  Divided into round-the-clock shifts, we were charged with everything from navigation to plankton tows.  Hammocked in the bowsprit of a 135-foot sail boat, being paced by a pod of wild dolphins seemed an adventure beyond belief.  We slept in the gunwhales because it was cooler than the cabin, and ate on the foc’sle to avoid the nauseating roll of the closed galley.  The weather cut our trip two days short, but I arrived home salty and exhilarated.

Being in the field breathes life into science in a way that documentaries and museums never can.  Field research is a gamble.  A long-shot where the risks include the very real ones to life and limb and the more amorphous one of disappointment.  The reward of a good day in the field may be as small as a single significant data point for the project, or as grand as a thrilling lifelong memory.

The students were ready and waiting in the parking lot when I left my classroom, that Friday.  They chattered and joked while jockeying for position in the car.  The drive itself was a chaperone’s dream – uneventful.  The ride down to the Keys seemed to go by quickly, and we got through the night in the hotel with no shenannigans.  The kids had an early call Saturday morning.  I expected to have to pound on doors to get them up, but when I came down to the hotel lobby, 16 expectant faces were there to greet me.  Armed with cameras and water bottles, they were ready to go.  Like, NAO.

© @lalsox

We arrived in Islamorada on time with waivers signed, ready to go.  Standing on the dock, I had a good feeling about the day.  The weather that had been threatening all week looked like it was going to hold off, and the water was calm.  David was excited to be going to an area of the Everglades National Park that is typically thick with lemon sharks.  With big fish and low visibility, there would be no chance of swimming that day.

The plan for catching sharks is simple.  Cast baited lines in a large circle.  Wait about an hour, and then go round and pick them up again.  Using a circle hook, ideal for catch-and-release, large pieces of fish on a long line allow any shark to continue swimming freely, and the line is equipped with a timer to let us know how long a shark has been hooked.  This is important for evaluating the overall health of the animal since many sharks must swim constantly to breathe, and some species are highly susceptible to stress.  The students were divided into teams and assigned jobs.  Measurements, muscle and cartilage biopses, and a tracking tag are all used to get information about shark age, relationships, and migratory patterns.

© @lalsox
David and Kyra demonstrating measuring and sampling techniques to the students.

We set the first ten lines, and then we waited.  We had lunch, and David and Kyra (a former student of mine) took the time to brief the students in the correct techniques for taking the data. As we started to bring up the lines, anticipation was very high.  The first ten lines were “intact”, meaning that the timer hadn’t been triggered, though the bait was eaten, in some cases.  Each line was re-baited and cast again.  Again, every pull brought up an intact line.  Sometimes, the bait was eaten, sometimes not.  No sharks, though.  It’s a sobering reminder that, over the past few decades, shark populations have been decimated.  Maybe the weather was keeping the sharks away that day.  Or maybe they just weren’t there at all.

By the time we’d set the third round of baits, I could tell everyone was nervous that we might not catch a shark at all that day.  In an area and a time of year when sharks were supposed to be plentiful, we hadn’t seen even one.  The winds were picking up, and the thunderheads were collecting on the horizon.  The kids huddled and dozed just outside of the cabin, but they watched every pull closely, hoping for a taut line.

When the last line came up empty, the disappointment on everyone’s faces was palpable.  And, in that moment, I was most proud of my students.  They crowded onto benches in the cabin to watch videos of shark tagging from previous trips.  They compared pictures captured on smartphones, taken throughout the day.  They braved the rising wind and salt-spray on the bow to enjoy their last hour on the water.  When we arrived at the dock, they listened attentively, made a sincere show of thanks, and said goodbye.  They didn’t try to hide their disappointment, but they didn’t wallow in it either.  And, every one of them wants to come back again.

That morning, on the way out, I had turned to Deb and said, “This is the best field trip ever.”  She looked at me sideways and asked me how I could say that when nothing had happened yet.  And I said, “We’re here.  That’s all that matters.”

I can’t wait to do it again.


Every day, I have to pick and choose which science blog posts I’m going to read. Titles scroll across my twitter feed, tempting me to push away my work and immerse myself in stories of tri-vaginated marsupials and XNA constructs. I’ve been following the opening of the NRC in Raleigh, NC, desperately wishing I could be there. Looking forlornly at images of Discovery, I’ve been saying farewell to the science giant that was the Space Program. The wealth of reading material in science blogs is staggering, and a lot of the writing is good.

I’ve been thinking a lot, since Science Online 2012 in January, about how students struggle to write effectively, and about how putting our work out there (like in this blog) can be so intimidating as to be paralyzing. In several different sessions at SciO12, I heard comments about the unpreparedness of college freshman to navigate science literature. Inability to distinguish between blog opinions and peer-reviewed papers is rather alarming, but it speaks to the experience of these students, not their intelligence. Understanding of resources begins with exposure. It develops when the interaction with those resources (articles, interviews, texts) is scaffolded in a meaningful way by teachers. It occurs to me that, although my students are prolific writers in English and History classes, they do virtually no science writing at all in their high school careers. I have a plan to change this, but, like any scientist, I need some preliminary data.

If you are a science instructor in higher education, an editor of a science publication or blog, or in any other field where you face the challenge of working with young science writers, I invite you to comment on the quality of science writing you see in undergraduate, graduate school, and beyond. Where do you see gaps in the science writing education of your students? What kinds of errors do you see, repeatedly, in your new hires that make you frustrated? When does the writing work?

If you’re challenged by science writing, what do you think your science education could have done to better prepare you?

Comment here to share your thoughts, or email me privately if you prefer.

(to reply privately, write me at lalsox(at)gmail(dot)com)

This is your chance to tell a high school science teacher writing work you wish she’d done with her students’ writing before they graduated.

It is an early Sunday morning in mid-January, and I have been at Science Online for three days. I haven’t slept more than four hours a night since I got here. I have had 17 units of alcohol. I’ve met roughly 200 new people. I have never talked so much in my life. Last night, I did something expensive, painful, and permanent. My right hand is shaking just a bit, and I want to kill that god-damned rooster outside the hotel.

But, to understand how I got here – how I wound up an over-stimulated, under-rested, hot mess – we’ve got to go back about one week…

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I’m making lists while packing for my conference trip. I love lists. There’s a list for the suitcase and another for my purse. I’ll leave my husband with a list, but that’s just to manage my neuroses. He’s an eminently capable father and the kids will be just fine. I lay out my clothes for each day. I wonder about the weather. I check Twitter to see what the other girls are saying about their banquet outfits. It will turn out later that I needn’t have worried. There will be everything from jeans to cocktail dresses, but today I’ll try on a half dozen things and change my mind at the last minute anyway. I’m traveling with technology, too. This is Science Online, after all. Tablet, Kindle, iPhone, chargers – they all go in the bag. Ironically, in all the time I will spend in North Carolina, I will use my computer only to check on my flight.

As I dither over whether to risk metal knitting needles through airport security, I wonder about the people I am going to meet. Some, like the Deep Sea News bloggers and the inexhaustible Stacy Baker, I have been following online for over a year. They’re the ones that turned me on to Science Online with their post SciO11 reports and tweets. Others, I became aware of after registration, and the Look Who’s Coming list was published. Registration should have been my first clue that this conference was something completely different.

By luck, I happened to have a free moment at work when the first registration window opened. I refreshed the page, entered my info, and paid in less than two minutes. By the time I printed my receipt, the first wave of registration was sold out. I felt elated, and I had no idea why. This Science Online was to be my first and I had no concrete expectations. But, an awful lot of people wanted to go. Badly.

Three days out from the event, I confirm my flight and my hotel. I look up cabs and local food. I cruise the blog pages and watch the clock. The next few days go by slowly and with mounting excitement as registrants post their memories of SciO11. Inside jokes abound. The #DSN crew has quite a rep.

On the morning of my flight, I am tense. I hate flying, and I don’t care that it is safe. I don’t care how many millions of people do it each day. I don’t care how many planes take off and land in the US in an hour. I hate it. But, in order to get to Science Online, I have to get on the plane. So far I have managed to get my work to pay for this trip, schedule the time off to go, and arrange to have my parents help out at home. If I have to drown my phobia the instant I get to the airport, I will.

The workday crawls along at a glacial pace. I’ve been obsessively reading Bora’s post on the Unconference Community, trying to get my head around what Science Online is like. When I first heard about it a year ago, it sounded like a great opportunity to get caught up on current events in science research, in a way that ed conferences typically don’t address. Education conferences are generally about ‘best practices’ and take-away sessions that can add to the curriculum. They mention advances in research as curious add-ons – something to discuss if time in the classroom permits. Time never does. Science Online also seemed like a good way to explore blogs as a resource for my students. Well written blogs can highlight information in an accessible way for a general audience. Peer reviewed journals and research reviews are typically a bit out of reach for the average high schooler. Now, days away from my first SciO experience, I am having doubts. It is obvious that Science Online is not a spectator sport. It relies heavily on the input and participation of its attendees. And, who am I? I’m not a blogger, I’m not a journalist, and I’m not a researcher. I’m a science teacher. When I finally board the plane, I am feeling like a kid going to her first summer of sleep-away camp where all the other kids have known each other for years.

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… So here I am, on Sunday morning, a bit wrung out as I pack my bags to go. College was a long time ago, and I’m not in strong fighting form anymore for this kind of thing. Not the late nights, not the schedule, not the deluge of information. But, next year I’ll be ready. From the moment I touched down at RDU, I’ve been mistaken about every aspect of this event.

To say that Science Online is a conference about communication is accurate, but inadequate. In the last three days, I’ve learned to make doodles into dynamic narratives. I’ve discussed blogging as a genre. I’ve talked about how students at every level are unprepared to manage the scholarly landscape. I’ve heard from adolescent bloggers looking to recreate Science Online for their peers. And, I have cartooned a session on Mel Brooks as a philosophy of writing. My conversations with fellow attendees were by turns passionate, dense, funny, vehement, enthusiastic, excoriating, commiserative and supportive. Science Online is a science-punk Wonderland of drink-me-knowledge that makes me small, and eat-me-understanding that makes me giant.

In my room, each night – exhausted but too ramped up to sleep – I try to sift through the slurry of information and ideas. I know that I’m going to lose most of it, but what I’ll take back with me is the urgency that online communication is critical for science at every level. There’s a lot of work to be done in defining what role online communication should play. Open Science takes on echoes of Napster when researchers and students have to navigate pay-walls for articles. The sometimes contentious relationship among science journalists, science writers, and science researchers highlights the jockeying that can happen when dollars and recognition are at stake. Issues of feminism and diversity are reflected in the blogosphere as much as in any other aspect of academia. But what has been clear in every session and conversation is that solutions for clear, constructive communication come from within the community, and will be built out of what each of us brings to the table. From the pages of the New York Times to a class on blogging Extreme Biology, every one of us has something to offer. If it seems like I’m completely geeked out over this, it’s because I completely am. This conference has turned me on to a side of science dialogue and education that is immediate, accessible, and above all, relevant.

I want to close by taking some space to mention a few people that helped make these three exhausting, stimulating days amazing. I can’t wait for next year.

(Do I need to put the ‘this list is not all-inclusive’ disclaimer here? OK, here it is.)

Dr. Rubidium. The first actual SciO12 face I saw. Her enthusiastic welcome at the airport set the tone for the next three days.

Kevin Zelnio, whose onstage presence at the open-mic made me too shy to talk to him later but whose writing has the casual honesty of an old friend.

David Manly, a quietly funny science writer from Canada with a passion for dinosaurs. He made me laugh, and that doesn’t happen a lot.

Cedar Riener, who listened very patiently to my babblings about education, and who is a marvelous writer and communicator on the subject.

Emily Willingham. DoubleXSci blogger, scientist, and mother. She writes with straightforward language and a candor I envy.

Danielle Lee. Irreverent and unflinching in her observations, she’s a fabulous dinner companion. Her work reminds me that the science in my own backyard is as grand as anything in National Geographic.

David Shiffman. Shark expert and conservationist, mentor to one of my own former students. His generosity and enthusiasm gives one the impression that he’s having fun every minute of the day.

Khadijah Britton, a livewire of an activist for science education and erstwhile lawyer with fearless lyrical stylings and an infectious laugh. Her personal story is as impressive as her plans for science outreach and youth.

Bora Zivkovic, the glue that holds Science Online together. I am certain that he puts this on with the help of countless people. But during the conference, he is everywhere with everyone. He never sleeps and he’s always online. My only personal interaction with him was when I hugged him on arrival, but it was a good hug.

I’m continuing to practice the sketchnote skills I learned at Science Online 2012 with Perrin Ireland.  Here are some of the notes I took during our recent professional development day, in which the focus was to prepare for a 1-to-1 laptop learning environment.  Taking sketchnotes in a “how to” type of talk (as opposed to the “unconference” style where I learned how) was very different, and poses some new challenges for layouts and organization.  Next week, I’ll be visiting some of my fellow teachers in their classrooms to sketchnote their various subjects.

Here is one that I took in a 10th grade English class on Act1, Scene 2 of Hamlet by William Shakespeare.

This is from an Honors Chemistry class on how to use the periodic table to determine electron configurations.

Lastly, here are some notes from a Senior-Freshman college panel on Making the Most of  High School.

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