Keynote Address: National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) National Conference, March 10-13, 2011, San Francisco

 Posted by DrJeff on February 2nd, 2011

 Copyright 2011  |  About this blog


At a time when it should be the birthright of all students to an education

that allows them to successfully enter the job markets of the 21st century…

At a time when America must inspire its next generation of scientists and

engineers if we as a nation are to compete in the technology markets

of the 21st century…


Are we rising to the challenge?


I have been asked to give the keynote address for the 2011 NSTA National Conference. There is no higher honor for a science educator than to be invited to address one’s peers at NSTA, and share both one’s love of learning and how it can be imparted to the next generation.


I am very aware that I’ve been asked to address possibly 10,000 teachers of science at a sobering time for both U.S. science education and the general education community. There is significant national emphasis being placed on science, and more generally STEM education, due to a recognition that our success is critical to America’s ability to compete in the 21st century marketplace. I agree deeply with this assessment (see , e.g., Troubled About America’s Future). Yet a significant systemic response has been to elevate testing to the point where one has to question whether testing still serves education, or education now serves testing. I am absolutely convinced that denying a joyful classroom to students AND teachers is not the road to success. And at this critical time for American education, there is a perfect storm. Severe budget cuts at the State and local levels have placed great stress on our school systems … and caused deep anxiety for our educators.


I believe the best thing I can do with this keynote, at a conference whose theme is Celebrating the Joy of Science, is to reaffirm that teaching is the noblest profession, that teachers are truly our future, and the joy of learning must always be the wellspring of our childrens’ experiences in our classrooms and our schools. And that the joy of teaching must always be the wellspring for all of our teachers who are so dedicated to passing a piece of themselves to the next generation.


We are a family … a family of educators. And in trying times, families come together so that the moral support of the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. An NSTA conference is about family.


Finally, I need to repeat something that I said at the keynote for the NSTA Regional Conference in Kansas City last year. The future of America rests in our ability to train the next generation of scientists and engineers, make sure we open high technology job sectors that embrace graduates with good jobs, and work toward a more scientifically literate public so that we the people can make informed decisions. Science education is key, and the National Science Teachers Association provides coherence and common ground for this nation’s teachers of science. When it comes to America’s Future, I look upon NSTA as a national treasure.


Below is the full description of my keynote address for NSTA in San Francisco. And for anyone that would like to read more, I’ve provided numerous links to essays I have written on teaching, human exploration, and the nature of our existence.


I’ve also provided a link to a raft of posts that were designed to be used as lessons by teachers in the classroom. The aim is science education as conceptual understanding at an emotional level (read About this Blog.) And these essays address a range of topics across the Earth and space strand, including: climate change, solar system studies, history of exploration, and studies of the greater universe.


So … I invite you to grab a cup of coffee, get comfortable, and read some essays that I hope will provide brave new insights into our world, and how to joyfully bring them into the classroom. I also invite you, if you are so moved, to leave a comment below!


(And if you are going to NSTA in SF, come say hello:)



ps- you might want to follow me on Twitter: @doctorjeff and/or subscribe to this Blog on the Universe.



Keynote Address: Science – It’s Not a Book of Knowledge … It’s a Journey


Dr. Jeff Goldstein

Center Director

National Center for Earth and Space Science Education


Every parent remembers that magical time when our children first began to speak, that moment marking the beginning of an unending flow of questions. In our children we can see our humanity — our innate curiosity — and recognize the obvious … that we are born to explore!

Science, in all its seeming complexity, is nothing but a means to organize curiosity. A way to empower one’s self to ask the gift of a question, and to hone the art that allows navigation through the noise of the universe around us in quest of an answer. It is an emotional, joyful, and wondrous journey that hopefully allows the traveler to pull back the veil of nature just a little, see how she operates, and celebrate the accomplishment.


Science education is no different. It is the means by which we immerse our children in the act of journey by letting them do science, and acknowledging it is their journey. As teachers, our sweet reward is seeing the joys of learning wash over them. And as teachers, we are charged with nothing less than patiently and gently launching the explorations of an entire generation.


The journey is written in our genes … the book of knowledge is not.

What should that reveal about both science and science education?

—Dr. Jeff



Links to some relevant essays:


A very personal thank you to teachers everywhere.

The Art of Teaching (at Huffington Post)


Our place in the greater universe and the sacred role of teachers.

The Nature of Our Existence


I’m obviously biased, but here’s an essay I think teachers of science should read.

The Power of Models


Do Americans understand what is at risk if we don’t take science and tech education seriously? (At Huffington Post)

Troubled about America’s Future


I come up with some cool stuff with a cup of coffee in hand.



We need many flavors of heroes, and not just athletes, musicians, and movie stars. How about …

Scientists and Engineers as Heroes


Maybe the human race needs some humility.

The Address of a Self-Important World: Humanity Needs a Reality Check


In my mind, education is the answer to many things.

September 8 and September 11: Joy, Pain , and Hope


Social Media, a powerful tool for education. School districts across America – we need to bring education into the 21st Century.

The Remarkable Power of Twitter: A Water Cooler for the 21st Century



LOTS and LOTS of Dr. Jeff essays on space, space exploration, science, and the universe:





Links to the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education:

Home Page

About Us

Core Beliefs

Embraced Pedagogy

Our Learning Community Model

A very good read: Testimonials

A Summary of Our Programs, with links to the individual program web pages and main websites.


NEW – March 15 2011 Critical Deadline

Student Experiments aboard the FINAL FLIGHT OF THE U.S. Space Shuttle Program

The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program



You think you might want to bring a program to your community that could change the way students, teachers, and families look at science and human exploration?  Contact us!


visit Store Galactica, supporting programs of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education

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