What happens when you combine a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM), Concert in the Park and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in the California sunshine? Of course it was the 2014 Mobile Laboratory Coalition (MLC) conference which brought 35 mobile laboratory professionals from all parts of the United States to learn, share and discuss how to advance science delivery in a mobile footprint.
The National Ag Science Center hosted the conference in Modesto entitled, “Accelerating Science Education.” To start off the first day, attendees were given the opportunity to learn about Hitachi’s SEM lending programs and their work in mobile labs in Peru.
Keynote sessions explored topics from NGSS to evaluation and funding options. Tony Beck, Ph.D. gave a look at lessons learned by mobile labs for the last 16 years and a glimpse at SEPA funding into the future. A look at NGSS in a mobile environment was provided by Dr James Kisiel, an associate professor from California State University, Long Beach. Dr Kisiel came at the topic with the unique perspective of being an instructor in a mobile science lab early in his career. The final keynote answered questions about evaluation in a mobile environment. Maia Werner-Avidon, Lead Evaluator from the Lawrence Hall of Science answered questions about evaluation in a mobile environment while providing timely tips for attendees to use in their labs next school year.
Eight breakout sessions included the initial development of a mobile laboratory manual, exploring DNA with grades 1-3 and Bringing Neuroscience to Under-Resourced Elementary Schools. Poster sessions provided an opportunity to meet the attendees and learn how colleagues from around the country share science on wheels.
A tour of the new Moreno Valley College mobile career lab and the 53-foot Ag In Motion science classroom from the National Ag Science were conference highlights.
Finally, the group gathered at a 90 year Modesto tradition, Concert in the Park featuring the all volunteer Modesto Band of Stanislaus County to hear Souza marches as they enjoyed a collegial atmosphere, great food and networking.
As always the conference combined professional development, the opportunity to explore new challenges facing the field and the chance to network and learn from peers. MLC members can access the conference presentations on the MLC website. This gathering of peers is an event not to be missed, mark your calendars for July in Baltimore to see what the host committee has in store.