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Smiling anew

One year ago, at the 2009 ASTC Annual Conference in Fort Worth, Texas, attendees had the opportunity to experience the beta version of howtosmile.org, an online collection of hands-on science and math activities developed by educators. Now, after incorporating user feedback from the ASTC 2009 session, the howtosmile.org team will unveil the final web site at the 2010 ASTC Annual Conference in Honolulu. The new site will showcase 1,000 activities, new partners, and improved community features.

Among the site’s new features are enhanced user lists. These lists make it easier for users to create a mini-collection of favorite hands-on activities from howtosmile.org and other web sites to share with friends and colleagues. Users will now also be able to track their participation on the web site with a new badge system. Badges are virtual rewards that can be earned through community actions such as leaving a comment, filling out a bio, or submitting a video. To encourage further community participation on the web site, the howtosmile.org team will showcase active users on the front page and occasionally will run contests connected to conference badges.

ASTC 2010 attendees can meet the web site’s team members at the ASTC Resource Center in the Exhibit Hall and at the “SMILE’s Single-Serve Buffet: Taste the Many Fun STEM Activities!” session on Monday, October 4, 10:30 a.m.–11:45 a.m., in Convention Center/Room 317AB. At the session, attendees can learn more about the new web site features, and sample the expanded activity collection with a Hawaii-themed tinkering session. They can also sign up for user profiles in the Exhibit Hall or at the session, and get a chance to win an Apple iPad.

Howtosmile.org is funded by NSF and is a project of the National Science Digital Library (NSDL.org), the United States’ online library for education and research in STEM. Howtosmile.org’s partners include Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California, Berkeley; Exploratorium, San Francisco; Science Museum of Minnesota, St. Paul; Children’s Museum of Houston, Texas; New York Hall of Science, Queens; ASTC; Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, Portland; COSI, Columbus, Ohio; TERC; NASA; DragonflyTV; the Astronomy Society of the Pacific; the BRIDGE: Online Ocean Science Education Teacher Resource Center; Perkins School for the Blind; and 4-H.

Guest blogger Darrell Porcello is director of the Center for Technology Innovation at the Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California, Berkeley.