AUSTIN, Texas—Growing new “Silicon Valleys” that will generate thousands of new jobs in a booming, future high tech Texas economy isn’t too farfetched an idea for Dr. Kamil Jbeily, who directs a unique statewide science education program from the UT Austin College of Education.
His vision, the critical shortage of new science teachers in Texas and competition from other state educational systems, will be openly debated at the 6th annual meeting of the Texas Regional Collaboratives for Excellence in Science Teaching. The meeting begins Wednesday (July 21) with a visual display of science exhibits at 6 p.m. in the Austin OMNI Hotel Downtown.
“This three-day conference begins with a visual display of a Texas science teacher lying across a bed of nails with a cinder block balanced on his chest,” said Jbeily. “Then, a science educator from UT Arlington will smash that block on his chest with a sledgehammer, illustrating the principles of pressure.
“And, we’ll have visual displays from 18 other Regional Collaboratives from Texas,” added Jbeily. At 7 p.m., more than 250 guests — mostly college presidents, master science teachers and corporate executives — will hear Dr. Larry R. Faulkner, president of The University of Texas at Austin, deliver a keynote address on “Science Education for the 21st Century.”
At 1 p.m. Thursday in the OMNI Ballroom, famed MIT physicist Dr. Thomas C. Hsu will demonstrate how classroom teachers can better teach about acceleration and speed by using a wooden car moving on an adjustable ramp with electronic timers, followed by other exhibits.
The conference is funded by corporate business partners of the Texas Regional Collaborative program, including foundations from the Shell Oil Co., Southwestern Bell and Exxon; the Texas Business Education Coalition; CASIO Incorporated; Delta Education; Apple Computers; and Holt Rinehart & Winston.
More than 6,000 science teachers and 600,000 Texas students have been served by Texas Regional Collaborative programs, which also receive major funding support from the Eisenhower Fund and the National Science Foundation — working through Dr. James Barufaldi, director of the UT College of Education’s Science Education Center.
At 8:30 a.m. Thursday in the OMNI Ballroom, Dr. Jack Christie, former chair of the State Board of Education, will conduct a panel exploring Texas policy challenges and opportunities. It features elected officials and senior administrators from the Texas Education Agency and Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
Later at 4:15 p.m., Barufaldi will lead a “Mentors Roundtable” focusing on classroom success stories in science teaching statewide in the same OMNI Ballroom.
“These three days are about enhancing our state’s science teaching, while also developing students’ scientific and technological literacy. This will be needed more than ever to fuel the Texas economy and compete — not only with other U.S. states — but globally,” said Barufaldi.