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2017 Conference Featured Speakers

State & National Speakers Bring the Latest Ideas in Science & Teaching

February 2-4, 2017, Atlanta Evergreen Marriott Conference Center, Stone Mountain

Students learn best when they are engaged, and teachers can best engage their students when those teachers have a deep understanding of content and instructional best practices. Our 2017 slate of speakers will help teachers enhance both aspects of their professional knowledge. Nationally renowned science educators Brian Reiser and Cary Sneider will deliver research-based and classroom tested approaches to 3D science learning and STEM. We also have a full slate of NSTA Press authors who will present innovative approaches to literacy, 3D learning, and elementary science education. A slate of Georgia-based content experts will discuss the latest developments in science research and applied science. These fascinating, real-world applications will help you answer that perennial question, "Why are we learning this?" You'll also hear key policies makers in the state answer your questions about where science education is headed in Georgia.

Featured Speakers & Presenters

National & Sate Science Education Experts and Policy Makers

Dr. Brian Reiser

Keynote Speaker: 3D Science & GSE

Brian J. Reiser is Professor of Learning Sciences in the School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University. Reiser was a member of the National Research Council committee authoring the report Taking Science to School (2007), which provided research-based recommendations for improving K-8 science education. Reiser worked with the NRC committee to develop the Framework for K-12 Science Education (2012), which guided the design of The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), and Developing Assessments for the Next Generation Science Standards (2014) which provides guidelines for NGSS assessments. Reiser has also worked with Achieve to provide feedback on the design of NGSS and on the tools to help states implement NGSS, and is collaborating with several state initiatives to design and provide professional development for K-12 teachers to support them in realizing the reforms in NGSS in their classrooms. Reiser’s research examines how to make the scientific practices of argumentation, explanation, and modeling meaningful and effective for classroom teachers and students. Reiser co-led the development of IQWST (Investigating and Questioning our World through Science and Technology), a three-year middle school curriculum that supports students in science practices to develop disciplinary core ideas. 

Dr. Cary Sneider

Keynote Speaker: STEM & Engineering in the Science Classroom

Cary Sneider is currently Associate Research Professor at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon, where he teaches courses in research methodology for teachers in a Master of Science Teaching (MST) degree program. He served as Technology and Engineering writing team leader for the Framework for K-12 Science Education and the Next Generation Science Standards. He currently chairs the Committee for Guiding Implementation of K-12 Engineering Education at the National Academy of Engineering. From 1997 to 2007 Dr. Sneider was Vice President for Educator Programs at the Museum of Science in Boston, where he led development of a high school engineering curriculum. Prior to that, he served as Director of Astronomy and Physics Education at the Lawrence Hall of Science at the University of California. Over his career he has served as the principal investigator or director of more than 20 grant projects involving curriculum development, teacher education, and science center exhibits and programs.

Sponsored by

Mary Gromko

NSTA President: Awards Dinner Address

Dr. Mary Gromko is the president of the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA). She began serving her one-year term on June 1, 2016. Gromko is currently a retired science educator in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Gromko has been a devoted teacher and dedicated leader in the science education community for more than 40 years. She began her career in education as a high school chemistry teacher in Connecticut. After moving to Colorado, she continued to teach for the Academy School District in Colorado Springs. During that time, Gromko also served as an instructor at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs and the University of Denver. In 1989, after 17 years in the classroom, Gromko moved on to accept a position as the state science supervisor for the Colorado Department of Education. In 1999, she began working as the K–12 science supervisor for a large school district in Colorado Springs. Most recently, Gromko served as a coordinator for teacher professional development at the University of Colorado's Center for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Education. As the coordinator, she worked to implement STEM programs in grades K–16.  Gromko earned a B.A. degree in chemistry and a M.S. degree in science/chemistry and science education from the University of Connecticut and a Ph.D. in curriculum and administration from the University of Denver.

Superintendent Richard Woods

State School Superintendent: Georgia Education Policy

Richard Woods was born in Pensacola, Florida and while growing up in a military family, lived in California, Hawaii and Virginia before moving to Georgia. He graduated from Fitzgerald High School, and went on to receive a Bachelor’s Degree from Kennesaw State University and a Master’s Degree from Valdosta State University.

Woods has over 22 years of pre-k through 12th grade experience in public education.  Woods was a high school teacher for 14 years, serving as department chair and teacher mentor. During his tenure, he was also selected as Teacher of the Year. For eight years Woods served in various administrative roles such as assistant principal, principal, curriculum director, testing coordinator, pre-k director, and alternative school director.

Woods also brings a business background to the superintendent's position, having been a purchasing agent for a national/multi-national laser company and a former small business owner.

He and his wife Lisha, a retired 30-year educator, are long-time residents of Tifton and have been married for 25 years.

Kenneth Mason

State School Board Member: Georgia Education Policy

Mr. Kenneth Mason was appointed to the Georgia State Board of Education in 2011 and represents metro Atlanta in the Fifth Congressional District.   He is Director of Urban Initiatives for the Southern Regional Education Board where he promotes college and career readiness for all students by employing the researched-based High Schools That Work comprehensive improvement model.  His experience as an instructional leader began when he was 15 teaching martial arts to classes with an age range from 4 to 84.

Mr. Mason earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from Hendrix College in Arkansas in 1998 and helped to launch an afterschool youth science enrichment and empowerment program for children in a neighboring rural school district.  After completing his undergraduate degree, he joined the Teach For America (TFA) corps and was assigned to teach science in inner city Oakland, CA. While earning his graduate degree from the University of San Francisco he served as a community liaison and robotic engineering consultant for Berkeley National Laboratory.

He is a founding board member and advisory council chair for KIPP Strive Academy and teaches high school students on a civil rights emergent experience called Sojourn to the Past. He lives in East Atlanta with his wife and two children.

Georgia STEAM Alliance Network

STEAM Education for Underrepresented Students

Board members of the Georgia STEAM Alliance Network and guest panelists will discuss challenges and strategies for giving all students access to high quality STEAM education.

Featured Presentations from NSTA Press Authors

Innovative Ideas & Proven Strategies from Respected Science Educators

Brought to you by


Dr. Jodi Wheeler-Toppen

Science the "Write" Way; Once Upon a Science Book Series

Jodi Wheeler-Toppen is a science author and educator with 10+ books for children and teachers from National Geographic Kids, Capstone, and NSTA Press. She is a former high school science teacher, with a Ph.D. in Science Education from the University of Georgia. Her goal in both writing and educating is to present science as exciting, suspenseful… and understandable. She loves having adventures with kids—her own and any others who come her way. Find her at or on Facebook @JodiWheelerToppen.

…a reluctant reader so captivated by science that he can’t help but read…
…a struggling reader drawn into a book she thought she wouldn’t understand…
…a teacher’s pride when she sees her students becoming confident science readers and writers.

Learn more.

Karen Ansberry & Emily Morgan 

Picture Perfect Science Series

Karen Ansberry and Emily Morgan are the authors of the award-winning Picture-Perfect Science series and Teaching Science Through Trade Books, published by NSTA Press. They write lessons that integrate science and reading and facilitate workshops for elementary teachers nationwide.

After graduating from Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio with a bachelor’s degree in biology, Karen completed an internship in the Cincinnati Zoo’s education department.  This experience inspired her to change her career focus from wildlife biology to elementary education, and after earning a Master of Arts in teaching from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, she taught fifth and sixth grade science and served as a science curriculum leader at Mason City Schools, in Mason, Ohio.

Emily has a bachelor’s degree in education from Wright State University and a master’s in education from the University of Dayton. She taught seventh grade science at Northridge Local Schools in Dayton, Ohio, and an elementary science lab at Mason City Schools in Mason, Ohio. She has served as a science consultant for the Hamilton County Educational Service Center in Cincinnati, Ohio and as the science leader for the High AIMS Consortium. Emily is also the author of the Next Time You See children’s book series published by NSTA Press.

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Dr. Lisa Nyberg

The Power of Questioning: Guiding Student Investigations

Dr. Lisa Nyberg has worked for over twenty-five years as an educator of students ranging from preschool to graduate school. Her teaching has been recognized by a number of awards including: the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Teaching and the National Science Foundation Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics and Science. Her work has been featured on The Disney Channel Salutes the American Teacher; "PBS SCIENCELINE" and "PBS: Learning Science Through Inquiry." Businesses have also acknowledged her work with the OMSI/Techtronix Award for Excellence in Teaching and the American Electronics Association Award for Science Teacher of the Year.

Dr. Nyberg’s academic background includes a B.A. in Human Biology; a B.S. in Elementary Education; an M.S. in Special Education; and, a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction. She has served as the Preschool and Elementary Director on the Executive Board as well as the Preservice Teacher Preparation Director of the National Science Teachers Association. In addition she has worked on a number of advisory boards including PBS and the Children’s Television Workshop for “Sesame Street.”

Dr. Nyberg has written and edited books, articles, and grants in the areas of science education and communication. She has co-authored, an award-winning book, How To Talk So Kids Can Learn (Simon & Schuster, 1995), focusing on communication strategies that teachers and parents may use to optimize learning. Her most recent co-authored publication, The Power of Questioning: Guiding Student Investigations (National Science Teachers Association, 2015) provides an instructional model teaching techniques to maximize engagement and depth of knowledge with interdisciplinary STEM units. This book was recognized as a 2016 REVERE Award Finalist, PreK-12 Learning Group, Association of American Publishers.

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Dr. Richard Konicek-Moran

Everyday Science Mystery Series

Richard Konicek-Moran, Ed. D. has been active in science education for over 60 years, as a classroom teacher, curriculum coordinator and professor. He received his undergraduate and master’s degrees from the University of Illinois, and his doctorate, from Columbia. At the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, he taught and did research on children’s thinking for over 30 years. He is the recipient of numerous awards in education, including the Distinguished Teaching Award from UMass and the NSTA Presidential Citation. He is the author of The Everyday Mysteries in Science series as well as co-author (with S. Page Keeley) of Teaching for Conceptual Change in Science and most recently From Flowers to Fruit from NSTA Kids with his wife, artist and illustrator, Kathleen Konicek-Moran. He lives in Bradenton, Florida and is an avid reader and enjoys the theater, opera, ballet, and symphonies available in the area.

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Dr. Victor Sampson

Argument-Driven Inquiry Series

Victor Sampson is an associate professor of STEM education and the director of the Center for STEM Education at UT-Austin. He specializes in argumentation in science education, teacher learning, and assessment. Dr. Sampson's research examines how students engage in argumentation in the context of science and ways to make the interactions that place between students, materials, and ideas during an episode of argumentation more productive in terms of learning. His current work focuses on the ways students support, evaluate, and revise ideas through discussion and writing in the context of science, group and individual meaning making during episodes of argumentation, the development of innovative instructional materials and strategies that emphasize argumentation as part of the teaching and learning of science, and how teachers' knowledge and beliefs about science, learning, and science teaching affect how they attempt to promote and support argumentation inside the classroom. He has published numerous articles, book chapters and books related to these issues. He has received several awards for his scholarship, including the 2008 National Association for Research in Science Teaching Outstanding Dissertation award and the 2012 National Association for Research in Science Teaching Early Career award. To learn more about his work in science education, go to

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Science Focus Speakers

Science Professionals & Content Experts from Around the State

Dr. Michael Evans

Chemistry of Solar Cells

Michael Evans was born in Louisville, Kentucky, and obtained a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Kentucky and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has served as the laboratory coordinator for First-year Chemistry at Georgia Tech since the summer of 2013. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his wife, son, and dog, running, playing chess, and home brewing.

Dr. Mark Farmer

Vaccine Denialism

Mark Farmer is Chair of the Division of Biological Sciences at the University of Georgia.  Dr. Farmer holds a Ph.D. in Botany and Plant Physiology from Rutgers University and has been teaching at UGA for over twenty years. He is the author of over 40 research publications that focus on the evolution of protists (protozoa, algae, and lower fungi) and is a Past President of the International Society of Evolutionary Protistology.  For two years he served as a Program Officer for the national Science Foundation.  In recent years he has become very involved in public policy concerning the teaching of evolution in the public schools.  He is a member of the Georgia Department of Education Science Advisory Board and a media consultant for the Georgia Citizens for Integrity in Science Education.

Dr. Flavio Fenton

Using Physics to Study Hert Function & Failure

Flavio Fenton is Associate Professor in the School of Physics at Georgia Tech.  Dr. Fenton earned his Ph.D. in physics from Northwestern University.  His research focuses on on excitable media, complex systems, and pattern formation, using a combined approach of theory, experiments, and computer simulations.

Dr. Bill Murphey

State Climatologist & Chief Meteorologist, GaEPD

Bill Murphey has a B.S. in Applied Physics, and an M.S. and PhD in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He worked for 8 years as a meteorologist for the Atmospheric Sciences Research Center at the State University of New York at Albany studying synoptic and meso-synoptic scale systems in the Polar Regions and in the Adirondack Mountains. He was also the U. S. Station Science leader at McMurdo Station, Antarctica in 1983. Bill is currently State Climatologist and Chief Meteorologist for the Environmental Protection Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. He serves on the NOAA Air Quality Model focus group, the NOAA GOES-R Air Quality Proving Ground, and the Georgia Mesonet Cooperative Modernization groups. In conjunction with Georgia Tech, his group provides air quality forecasts for Metropolitan Atlanta, Macon, and Columbus Metropolitan areas. Bill is also an adjunct college professor and has been teaching Environmental Sciences at Georgia Perimeter and Georgia State since August 2010.

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