CAST 2013: Day 1
by Ryan Sparzak
Once upon a time, I too exercised my advanced methods of avoiding eye contact, politely rejecting a flyer and by all means any form of interaction with exhibitors. Unless that is, they had something substantial to offer me. In many ways, it reminds me of life in the concrete jungle of New York. Two people can pass on a deserted sidewalk where it would be most awkward not to say hello, but still no interaction takes place.
The CAST 2013 tour has been completely different. Y’all can blame it on Southern Hospitality if you must, but there is more to it than that. And no, I’m not talking about Justin Timberlake’s restaurant chain. The Global Travel Alliance team has been pleasantly surprised at not only the amount of educators present, but the excitement for educating America. These science teachers are far more cordial and more interested in striking up a conversation to see if we can add any kind of value to their classroom. They are here to learn, like we are. Finding products and resources that will benefit the students they love is their top priority. Of course, there is the 1% rolling on through with their over-sized rolling suitcase looking for handouts, but these individuals are few and far between. These educators are far more interested in what you are saying than what you are giving. The trick is to get past your misconceptions and simply strike up a conversation.
We had an incredible day at Booth 246. There was plenty of interest and solid interaction with some amazing teachers. Perhaps even cooler than the interest was the quality of those teachers we met. We learned a lot from teachers like Ashley, who is teaching science to pregnant mothers and/or new moms in Houston. Gwynn from Alvin, TX gave us a giant bag of homemade spicy Chex Mix – outstanding! We also saw some old friends like Paul Cheney from Concordia Lutheran, who gave us a great shot in the arm at just the right time. This is what makes my job great.
To be honest, this conference is just…fun! It sort of reminds me of a scene from an Indian Jones movie, with bizarre twists. Throughout the day there were remote control District 9 drone-like apparatuses flying above our heads. A Guns-n-Roses cover band with portable amps strapped at the hips and electric guitars rocked and walked by. With long permed locks they circulated the exhibit hall taking requests from Journey to Poison. I’m more of a Van Halen fan myself…but I digress. And let me tell you about the animals – they’re everywhere! Both dead and alive. The living ones get loved on, studied, and photographed. The dead fetal pigs and frogs get the same attention, perhaps more, thanks to the guys at Carolina Supply Company. Science teachers love guts and the smell of Formaldehyde. Science rocks!
We are looking forward to another exciting day at Booth 246. Please stop by if you are here at the CAST convention. We’d love to chat about our America West science expeditions and to learn from you. Please look at our tweets for a chance to pick up some goodies, like Megan Turner did. Global Travel Alliance will keep you rockin’! And the next time you read this post, I encourage you to play The Final Countdown. You know you want to!
Paul Belanger and Ryan Sparzak (rymanhattan) are manning our booth at CAST. Follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook and Google Plus, or stop by for a high-five!