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)

6 thoughts on “Random thoughts from Phoenix

  1. “But it’s a dry heat!” I love that dry heat, and Phoenix is actually one of my favourite summer destination spots. 🙂 You actually usually get really good hotel deals there in the summer because of the heat.

    Sounds like it’s been an interesting conference so far. Enjoy the rest of it and the rest of your time in the dry heat!



  2. Hi Doug!

    I’m glad you have had a fun trip down to Arizona! There’s no doubt that the difference in perceived heat there makes for a very different experience than what we have here in Ontario. One of the things that jumped out for me as a result of the different climate was the use of stone in place of grass in the rough on golf courses and on those bits of inaccessible land that run along the side the freeway. There are places where there is a distinct contrast between the maintained property and the natural land, and Phoenix is one of those places. If you see a green lawn, you know that somebody has the resources needed to pump the water up from the aquifer and keep the grass alive.

    With regards to the absence of local dishes in restaurants, I doubt that Snake and Buzzard Surprise would go over well. Even if you could catch one, I don’t think you would get a lot of calories from a roadrunner!

    I’d like to talk with you more at some point about the difference you perceived in the tension between “learn to code” and “code to learn.” I’m assuming that the concentrated focus of CSTA tipped the scales toward the former, whereas ECOO brings a more generalized K-12 focus to things and the counter focus of using the developed thought processes beyond the discipline.

    If you are still in Phoenix when you read this and need support to control your cravings for a Tim Hortons, Yelp says there is one at 6751 N Sunset Blvd in Glendale. It would be interesting to know if the prices there (aside from being in $US) are higher than what you would expect.

    Given that the date stamp on this comment is earlier than your usual 5 AM blog post, I need to sign off for now. I’m still in Eastern Time!

    Safe travels home.


  3. As you know I am a cold weather person. The heat in Phoenix was pretty uncomfortable for me and I stayed inside as much as possible. The conference was great though and I really enjoyed it.


  4. That’s great teachers are starting to use linux!
    I think that’s indicative of tech savviness! Ubuntu is free and a great positive learning philosophy!

    Make sure you drink lots of water, Phoenix is a desert!


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