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2011 Ahead of the Future

2011 Ahead of the Future under way

October 24, 2011 10:10 PM
By JACQUELINE ARMENDARIZ/ The Brownsville Herald

The 2011 Ahead of the Future Conference, which is set to show teachers how to engage students using science and maybe even a little bit of Hollywood magic, will take place today through Saturday on the UTB-TSC campus.

The University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College conference is the third education gathering hosted in Brownsville this month. Teachers and students will visit throughout the week. The public is invited to the Saturday events with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers basketball team and the interactive Storm Fury exhibit hosted by a professional storm chaser, organizers said.

UTB-TSC professor Janice Butler said the conference was the idea of College of Education Dean Miguel Angel Escotet and was organized over the past 15 months. Butler is conference coordinator and an assistant professor in the Department of Teaching, Learning and Innovation and Educational Technology.

"Originally, it was almost exclusively about technology, but it really shifted to education in general," she said.

The focus is on science and the aim is to show teachers how to apply science in a way that keeps students interested, she said.

Butler said a NASA trainer will be at the conference all week. On Wednesday, Hollywood stunt man Steve Wolf will show K-12 students and teachers the physics and chemistry of exploding buildings and flying through the air. Wednesday will also be the conference’s Halloween themed day with an environmental twist to make for "Happy HalloGREEN Science Day," Butler said.

She said the multiple education conferences this month were coincidental, but they were a good sign. This month, the University of Texas System held the Vista Summit Oct. 5-6 as a broad reaching two-day meeting that invited the general public, elected officials, business leaders and educators to discuss the Valley’s potential. The State of Education luncheon, which was a similar meeting that focused on education through a local lens, took place the following week.

"It’s really neat," she said. "It shows that the focus is across the spectrum. We’re looking at K-12 and the entire community is saying ‘What can we do to make this a better place?’"

The conference is hosted by the UTB-TSC College of Education along with several sponsors.

For more information call 956-882-6713 or visit

The following is conference’s schedule this week:
>> Tuesday, Oct. 25: Sessions about the future of education in Texas and the nation led by legislative officials followed by interactive sessions on education.

  • Wednesday, Oct. 26: Happy HalloGREEN Science Day for K-12 students and teachers. Participants will learn about science when experiencing exploding buildings, burning bridges and flying through with air with stuntman Steve Wolf.
  • Thursday, Oct. 27: Special sessions geared towards the technology demands for administrators in the digital age.
  • Friday, Oct. 28: Conference wrap up sessions.
  • Saturday, Oct. 29: Open to the public is the Rio Grande Valley

Vipers basketball camp, where students will learn about the math components involved in the game. The afternoon will host Urban Science, where families will learn about the weather during the interactive "Storm Fury" program.

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