Welcome to DENSI 2016!

This post was co-written by Wisconsin DEN Star Rachel Yurk.

Greetings! This year’s Discovery Educator Network Summer Institute kicked off with a bang, thanks to Steve Dembo and his Star Wars troupe. Prior to the opening BBQ meal, attendees had the chance to connect with each other through gift giving and conversation. What a great reason to mingle and connect with someone new.  Lance introduced the theme of JOY and shared a new SOS strategy in which we switched tables and then answered three pointed questions around the table designed to help us get to know more people.  It never ceases to amaze that regardless of how many years you have been attending DEN events, each experience like this surfaces new information about the great community to which we belong.  Awesome!

Attendees were then treated to a keynote by Rob Chambers, Systems Engineering Senior Manager from Lockheed Martin. He spoke about his work with human space flight and Orion and SLS Space Exploration project.  Check out more at www.LockheedMartin.com/GenerationBeyondInSchool.com His message was inspirational in that while the students that we teach are the future, we as educators are the inspiration that encourages the future.  He also spoke about the need to consider STEAM, as the arts really are essential to our future.

Emily Wirth reviewed the schedule for the week and reminded the team that we can see everything in many places.  One of the best is the DENSI website, thanks to Dave T., LeaAnne D., and Jeremy B.  Find it at:   www.densummerinstitute.com. Emily introduced Jannita Demian, who explained the history of the DEN Finger.  Not to be confused by any other finger, the DEN Finger is a symbol of celebration and appreciation.  Each day, the actual finger is awarded to an individual who stands out and goes above and beyond in DEN spirit.  Tonight, the finger was awarded to Wisconsin educator Rachel Yurk. She organized a trip for interested Leadership Council members to attend a concert by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (of which her father plays the flute).  A new recipient of the DEN finger will be awarded Monday evening.

Tomorrow’s events include an outing to The Field Museum and the Planetarium, as well as an exciting networking event in the evening.

Follow along on Twitter, using the hashtag #densi2016.