Here's what happened during the final day and a half of the conference. In our most recent T^3 article, I mentioned giving a talk on calculator programming shortly before Pi Second, at which TI served several varieties of delicious pie.
In fact, Saturday, March 14th was full of all kinds of Pi Day celebrations: it turns out that math and science educators are the perfect crowd with whom to celebrate Pi Day. Besides four or five different varieties of pie at the conference, there was a contest to recite as many digits of pi as possible. I clocked in at a mere 53 digits; the first-place winner recited an impressive 120 digits and received a pizza stone engraved with many digits of pi. I myself got a cool MathemaTIcian shirt and pi pencils for my efforts. Later in the day, TI served pizza, including a pizza with pi formed out of pepperonis on top. To get a slice of pizza, all you needed to do was recite at least 15 digits of pi.
For the last couple of years, there has been a long Lua session on one of the days of T^3. Called SLUGfest (Super Lua User Group fest), it's an opportunity for Lua experts and beginners to get together to discuss Lua skills and tricks, particularly as they apply to the TI-Nspire. This year, I was particularly excited to see TI's efforts to promote connecting hardware to the TI-Nspire. Stephen Arnold presented the TI-Nspire Apps for iPad controlling the TI Launchpad MSP430 development board over Bluetooth, and mentioned that they're planning to make the system work with TI-Nspire CX handhelds as well. His demos included a keyboard program that could play a wave of a given shape, amplitude, frequency, and duration over a speaker attached to the microcontroller, a greenhouse with sensors and the ability to build control systems, and a host of other sensor-related projects. We hope that we'll have a chance to help guide these same projects onto the TI-84 Plus series, given our work with ArTICL and many other calculator hardware projects.
I participated in TI's first "Tweetup", to which they invited the conference attendees who had been posting statuses and pictures about the conference on Twitter. There was good food, good conversation, and not only did I get a Radical Red TI-84 Plus CE of my own, I won a second one that I ended up declining to avoid hogging all the TI-84 Plus CE (Cemetech user DrDnar ended up with it).
The last day of the conference included power sessions, of which I attended a panel about STEM education, and a closing keynote by Emily Calandrelli. I enjoyed getting different perspectives on promoting STEM education and what can be done in math and science classrooms to get students excited about STEM topics in the power session. I also found Ms. Calandrelli's talk to be quite inspiring: she emphasized why STEM is awesome. First, it can make you uncomfortable, and force you out of your comfort zone. Second, it gives you the superpowers to understand the world around you, to be curious, and to attack any problem. Finally, it gives you a ticket to travel and see the world, as many companies and internships will pay you to travel while you pursue STEM projects and jobs. I had the privilege of meeting Ms. Calandrelli at TI's "Tweetup" on Saturday evening as well, and found her to be very personable; she was very involved and enthusiastic about the teaching and learning going on throughout the conference.
I found the conference to be probably the best-attended of the three T^3s that I have experienced, and it was a great opportunity to meet new teachers, TI employees from all over the company, and exhibitors, as well as catch up with old friends. I'm very excited about the conversations (sorry, the conversaTIons) that I had at the conference, including with teachers excited about bringing programming, electronics, and other STEM skills into their own classrooms. I hope you can come check out T^3 in future years, whether you're a teacher, a student, or just a calculator programming community member who is curious to see passion for our favorite handheld devices on the educational side of things.
Left to right: Gayle Mujica and Dr. Peter Balyta kick off the conference; using the TI-84 Plus CE; presenting TI-BASIC on the TI-83 Plus/TI-84 Plus family and a rapt audience member; exploring the TI-84 Plus CE further; Emily Calandrelli during the closing session.