Wow! What a day today. It was busy from the outset. First, breakfast was scheduled at 7:30, but there was a small matter schedule for us as the US team...we had to meet Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. We hustled to breakfast early, and headed over to the Warner Theatre for our meeting.
There was a press conference and pictures, and usual talking accompaning a visiting politician with his standing, then we had two people scheduled to present to the Secretary: Nate and his iAm project and the When Fish Fly project. Their presentations were great, and the Secretary even played the fish video game. We then got word that EVERYBODY would present to him! I was next in line, and presented Combat Fishin'! to the Secretary. We also chatted about Alaska a little bit and he told me what a great project it was. He proceeded to everybody else, giving them due time to present their work. It was a great gesture from him, and an honor to present to him. Hopefully some good will come of it in the way of policy making!
Next, we had our morning keynote. Anthony Salcito, Education director at Microsoft announced that Microsoft and the Department of Education are pairing to enhance and push education forward in the US. Secretary Duncan also addressed us, citing many statistics and improvements he hopes to make. It was a good talk.
Next, we headed to our Smithsonian off-site locations for the Learning Excursion. My group headed to the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. I was not excited to go there; it was my last choice behind places like the National Museum of Natural History. Nonetheless, we had a good drive to Maryland and a great time learning and conducting research about fish in Chesapeake Bay. It was a good experience in a beautiful place. We took what we learned and will apply it to our project about water.
The cap biggest part of the day for the teachers was next. We had our first judging session! Many of us had two judges visit our booths. My first judge was from Taiwan. He spoke good English, so communication was only a small problem. My trouble was communicating to him how big a part of life fishing is in Alaska. I didn't think he completely understood it, and this was confirmed by my afternoon judge. I relayed the information to him, and he got it! I was very happy with this 20 minute judging. He was from Spain, and he understood the project in its fullness. I was somewhat happy with my judging sessions. My big disappointment was being next to a video game and having their crowd cover my booth. I received little traffic other than my judges. Overall, I considered it a good day.
The rest of the evening was a reception with the school booths open and our regional dinners. I didn't get a chance to visit any booths, including Highland Tech, and that disappointed me. Our regional dinner was at Zaytinya, a nice restaurant in DC. Man, that was fun! We ate, drank, and visited until midnight, and some even went to a cigar bar afterwards! I was able to have some good conversations with folks from Philadelphia's School of the Future. They are doing some good things!
After a long day, I slept well, and looked forward to the next day!