November 1, 2010
by Kevin Kawai
Texas, the Lone Star State, often brings visions of the Alamo, the Dallas Cowboys football team, the Houston Astros baseball team and NASA's Johnson Space Center. But how about being recognized as one of the leading states whose mission is to ensure its educators are provided with the latest skills and knowledge necessary to prepare their students for success? It's not uncommon to hear the phrase "Everything is a lot bigger in Texas" among the locals, and recently I found out how truthful that statement really is. On November 11-13, 2010, thousands of science teachers throughout the state of Texas, journeyed to the city of Houston to attend the Conference for the Advancement of Science Teaching (CAST). This conference, hosted by the Science Teachers Association of Texas, took place at the George R. Brown Convention Center which upon first glance, appeared like a giant red, white and blue cruise ship - complete with funnels, portholes and even a gangway bridge! CAST provided many opportunities for teachers to improve their science teaching skills through jam sessions, workshops, field trips, course studies and meeting with exhibitors. As a result, teachers would then bring back and expose their students to the latest science curriculums and keep pace in today's ever changing global technological arena. With the promotion of science and academics more prevalent than ever before, students would undoubtedly enhance their opportunities pursuing future careers in science related fields.
Celestron's West Coast Sales Manager, Darren Gonzales, and I traveled to Houston to take part at our first CAST event. We immediately noticed teachers were quite passionate about finding new ways to continually improve their science courses. Those we spoke with taught on many different levels - from grade school to university. Throughout the conference, many teachers were instantly drawn to our HandHeld Digital Microscope, HandHeld Digital and Optical Microscope and the Deluxe LCD Digital Microscope. We displayed live images of a dissected earthworm, various insects, currency and even a meteorite for everyone to view. "Those microscopes are so cool and easy to use!" said one teacher, while another commented "I can picture my students learning and having fun with these digital microscopes." Additional items we exhibited included the Digital LCD and Camera Accessory, Prepared Slide Sets, the new LED HandHeld Illuminated Magnifiers and Loupes, 4 Color LCD Weather Station, SkyScout, IYA FirstScope, AstroMaster 70AZ, NexStar 6SE and a 15x70 SkyMaster binocular. Not only are all these products educational and great teaching tools, but they're also fun to use. Who says science isn't an exciting subject?
Although the 3 day conference went by quickly, both Darren and I enjoyed exhibiting and demonstrating our products with all those who visited our booth. It was especially rewarding to hear how our products, especially the digital microscopes, would be a welcomed addition to the classrooms. We spoke with many educators and obtained valuable feedback which we'll be able to use to continually make our products better and better as technology keeps evolving. With Texas having the honor of holding the largest state wide science teachers' conference in the nation, I'm not surprised at all that events here are indeed, just a bit bigger. Next year's CAST event is scheduled to take place in Dallas, and we'll most likely find our way back to the Lone Star State.