The 2007 Florida Educational Technology Conference (FETC) kicked off Wednesday, Jan. 24, at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., with an ambitious challenge from keynote speaker Bill Nye to conference participants: “Change the world.”
Best known for his work on the Bill Nye the Science Guy television program, which earned him seven Emmy Awards, Nye also has written four books. He is the host of two currently-running television series: The 100 Greatest Discoveries, which airs on the Science Channel, and The Eyes of Nye, which airs on PBS stations.
“The next decade is going to change the world, and we’re all going to be here for it,” Nye said, addressing the audience in his trademark blazer and bowtie.
Nye discussed how his father’s fascination with sundials inspired his own interest in how science impacts everyday phenomena, then linked his own personal interests and experiences with FETC’s mission–to promote educational technology.
He discussed recent discoveries and findings on the planet Mars and related them to today’s science education. “If life is discovered on Mars, it will have been by a team of people educated by public schools, and that’s a celebration of educational technology,” he said.
“That, my friends is the essence of science–the joy of discovery,” Nye told the crowd.
“We are facing a serious business here on Earth; we are facing a very serious future unless we get on it,” he said, referring to science and education. “It was through exploration of other worlds that I first got this perspective.”
Nye discussed the issue of global warming and the fact that some influential political activists and others in leadership roles do not believe it to be a problem.
“This is where we, as educators, must change the world,” he said.
President Bush’s American Competitiveness Initiative, designed to increase the number of scientists, technical workers, and qualified math and science teachers, should be a motivation to educators, Nye said.
“That’s what we need–you have to change the world,” Nye said, continuing his theme of change. He then described several different scientific problems and their potential solutions, emphasizing that through education, the nation’s students may come up with the answers to some of today’s most pressing questions.
“One hundred years ago we were riding horses to work, but now we’ve changed and we have cars,” he said. “In another hundred years we can change again, and that is up to us as educators, to make our students realize that [science] is a worthy pursuit.”
More than 8,500 teachers, administrators, and educational technology experts reportedly are in attendance at this year’s conference.
“FETC is a great opportunity for teachers to learn how technology can enhance their students’ learning experience,” said Michael Eason, executive director of the Florida Educational Technology Corporation, which manages the annual conference. “Those attending learn about best practices from national experts on educational technology, as well as [from] their peers. Plus, they will see–and can purchase–the latest innovations in classroom technology in our 250,000-square-foot exhibit hall.”
The conference features more than 200 hour-long concurrent sessions that will provide professional development and demonstrate how ed-tech products, applications, and best practices can be used in the classroom.
In addition, attendees will have the opportunity to tour Orange County’s Ocoee Middle School, a technology demonstration school for the state of Florida.