Random thoughts from Phoenix


As the 2019 CSTA Conference winds down, I thought I’d share a few thoughts.

“It’s a dry heat” – I’ve heard that many times but got to experience. It’s 5:30am as I type this and it’s already 31 degrees with a forecasted high of 43. The “feels like” temperature is 29 which is a little bizarre. At home, we’ve experienced high humidity which turned the tables in the opposite direction. But, “it’s a dry heat”. (It’s also the wifi password…)

As expected, the convention centre was very well air conditioned. Talk to some and they’d say over air conditioned. That only lasts until mid-afternoon and then the sun kicks in. But, it’s a dry heat, right?

The roads are amazing. At least where I’ve been, there are no cracks and potholes, just smooooth driving. I’m guessing we have winters to thank for things. Of course, in the downtown city, there is spray paint identifying underground services so that remains constant!

Computer Science teachers are very friendly and are more than willing to share coding stories. That’s a highlight for me.

The most organized group has to be the Arkansas folks. They sent a big group en masse and they have assigned t-shirts to wear every day. It started with a tie-dye and ended with red.

People love swag. We had a nice collection of things from the exhibitors. For me, the big winner was the metal coffee cup. Of course, I had to get a green one.

I have a renewed appreciation for the Ontario Curriculum. If you talk to any Grade 11 teacher in Ontario, they’re all working from the same page. That’s not the same here. The common thread, if there is one, is in the AP courses but beyond that there’s a wide variety of topics.

Cybersecurity is a big issue for many people. This is a good thing. It’s also a tough one because there are no hard and fast answers and it truly is a moving target.

Back to the environment in Phoenix, those misting machines outside the restaurants do a really good job. They work against the dry heat!

One of my volunteers was from Phoenix. I learned

  • even Phoenix people don’t go outside from 12-2 if they can get away with it
  • people never close their backyard pools
  • Phoenix has huge traffic problems like any other city
  • Phoenix is located in a valley and that can cause problems when smog settles in
  • recycling is a big deal

From the elevator with the outside glass windows, the tops of the building are not black as so many of ours are, they’re white in colour.

Looking down at the Convention Centre – three storeys tall.

There really is a difference in mentality between “Learn to Code” and “Code to Learn” when you talk to people. Obviously, I have my preferences – how do you know if you’re right?

You could go broke if you bought even one of the programmable robotic things in the Exhibit Hall, forget buying enough to use them effectively in the class.

Unlike ECOO where everyone seems to be using some sort of Macintosh or iPad, there are a lot of Windows users here. And, a bit of Linux too!

There didn’t seem to be any local flavours at the restaurants that I ate at. One night, I actually had fish and chips for supper. I don’t know everything about Phoenix but I’m pretty sure Cod is not caught anywhere around here.

I’m envious of US smartphone plans. I would have had to pay extra to have roaming access; it seems like everyone else is connected no matter where they’re originally from.

I’ve got a really good appreciation for my own bed. I can’t wait to get back and sleep in it!

Aero and Coffee Crisp chocolate bars go over well!

I think this was the first conference ever that I wore shorts every day. There are pants in my luggage but they stayed there.

I’d kill for a Tim Horton’s coffee. (just an expression)

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OTR Links 07/11/2019


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.