Here are some short reflections from Indiana teachers that attended the 2019 CSTA Conference in Phoenix, AZ

Justin Smith


I have gone to the CSTA Conference for the last 4 years. It is a great conference that provides a lot of options for workshops and sessions that align with what I can do in my classes. I like that there is a good variety of workshops since sometimes I want to improve my knowledge in a topic, and other times I want to learn about new things to try in my classes. I prefer hands-on types of activities, so the early bird workshops are great. This year, I attended a workshop about cybersecurity, and I got 3 hours of time to learn about a particular curriculum and how to use it.

I just started teaching a cybersecurity course, and I feel much more confident about it since the conference. I would recommend this conference to new teachers or tenured teachers that want to stay current with technology and learn new things. I have always been fortunate enough to have a grant at my school to pay for me to attend, but I have heard that you can get sponsorships or awards to attend.


Ryan Ritz


I have attended the CSTA annual conference three times (2012, 2014, 2019), and the growth of this conference, in terms of professional development opportunities and the number of attendees, has increased significantly throughout the years. I always find this conference energizing and inspiring, and I walk away with a wealth of ideas and concepts to use in my classes. My favorite session this year was the “Nifty Assignments” session where teachers shared engaging, interesting projects ideas. I plan on incorporating many of these projects in my classes this school year. In closing, the positive growth in computer science education throughout the country and, more specifically, throughout the state of Indiana, is encouraging and inspiring! I look forward to CSTA 2020!


Brandy Hicks


This year was my first year attending the conference. There were sessions that I went to that were not available at any other local conference. It was the best in CS from all over the country coming to present sessions. An example of a great session that I attended was a pre-conference workshop on Micro:bit. All I can say it was WELL WORTH the 12 hours of travel that it took me to get there in time. The session was phenomenal. I came back with engaging, hands-on curriculum to bring into my middle school classroom. The session was innovative and materials were exactly what I was looking for. I've attended a lot of conferences, but this one stood out as the best CS conference. I would recommend this conference to anyone looking for hands-on lessons that impact encouraging girls and traditionally underrepresented students, or to those looking for sessions that you won't find anywhere else.

I was able to secure funding from Oracle Academy as a first time conference attendee.


Julie Alano


CSTA 2019 was the 9th CSTA conference that I attended. Many times when you attend a conference, you may only learn one thing and/or confirm that what you are doing is in-line with others. While both of those things are beneficial, is always something new to learn in the field of computer science! I have learned something new each year and made new friends at the conference each year as well. Many new happenings in the CS Education world take place at CSTA. I met Hadi Partovi (before was “”) when he announced the first Hour of Code at CSTA. By the time AP CS Principles was officially offered as an AP course, I was tired of hearing about it, because it had been discussed and promoted at CSTA for years.  The CSTA conference focuses on computer science and provides excellent PD opportunities from 3-hour workshops, to 1-hour breakout sessions, and even Certiport certifications free of charge. The CSTA conference is always affordable compared to other national conferences and it is easy to navigate. I have found various ways to fund my attendance at the CSTA conference. There are scholarships for first time attendees, as well as other scholarships, especially if you want to get involved in CSTA Indiana chapter leadership. My school has also paid for it - be sure to ask early and possibly use AP or High Ability funding. You may also be able to ask your CTE director to help pay for the conference, depending on how computer science is offered in your school. My first CSTA conference was covered by the NSF-funded Research Experience for Teachers (RET) at Purdue. You can also apply for the NCWIT Educator Award (similar to the Aspirations in Computing Award for girls), which awards you with PD funds, and the CSTA conference is automatically approved.


Ryan Bean


This was my first year attending the CSTA conference. Through my conference experience, I gained practical and applicable ideas that I can implement in my computer science classroom. Many conferences provide some ideas, but CSTA provided inspiration and pragmatic resources instantly ready for implementation. One thing that sets this conference apart from others is that I was able to meet a variety of experts and national leaders in computer science education. As a relatively new practitioner, as many teachers in Indiana are, meeting the experts was rewarding.


Joann Novak


I was selected as a Rolls Royce Scholar for the 2019 Summer CSTA Conference. The scholarship covered the registration, air travel up to $400, and my hotel room.

This was my first year in attendance and I believe that it was a beneficial conference for CS teachers both new and experienced.


General Observations:

  • The logistics were well planned and I appreciated having everything in walking distance so that a car rental was not required.

  • The CSTA is in a state of rapid growth. This was the largest CSTA conference EVER!

  • As with any conference, I find that the sessions presented by other educators are the most useful.

  • The exhibit hall is a useful resource when you need to research many options at one time. Most booths had good materials to bring back and the swag was high quality and worth taking back home.

  • I appreciated the opportunity to take a Microsoft Technology Certification test for free. It was a useful experience as I consider how I can best leverage the new Indiana Graduation Pathways options.

  • It was beneficial to have others from the state of Indiana in attendance for socializing and networking.

  • I was also glad that I chose to volunteer some of my time at the registration desk. It allowed me to get a sneak peak at some of the conference activities and allowed me to meet some other CS teachers.


Dana Calfee


This was my first year to attend CSTA. Julie Alano reached out and asked if I would be interested in helping to revive the Indiana Chapter. I met her at the CSTA Leadership Summit prior to the beginning of the conference.

Attending CSTA was a valuable experience for someone like me who is new to considering all the possible ways to integrate the CS standards in middle school. I enjoyed being able to choose from the wide variety of sessions offered as I explore my CS niche. I made connections with people all over the country and have already communicated with several to collaborate on what we learned in breakout sessions. 

I also appreciated the enthusiasm from the CSTA board and feel like I am contributing to something bigger that has the potential to really impact kids. Not only that, I feel supported as I grow my knowledge base because by attending, I realize there are many teachers in my same situation. 

I feel fortunate to have been funded by a Chapter Leadership Scholarship for first time attendees and hope I will be able to secure funding to go again.