CSTA’s annual conference has no exhibit hall. It does have industry sponsorship though and that has generally meant that there were some industry speakers. There was not a specific quid pro quo though.
Alfred is blogging about conferences, and his perspective has been as a paid "booth babe".
As a teacher, and one from a poor school district -- I usually have to foot at least half my bill, if not all of it -- I have to be reallly choosy when it comes to professional conferences.
I've been to CSTA twice, and like it the best. I went last year when it was in California and when it was a one day in San Antonio -- flew in the morning and out that evening via Southwest Airlines. Both on my own dime. Very low key, packed with good stuff.
My next favorite conference is Grace Hopper, been once and came back very optimistic and recharged. Wanted to go last year, but my principal nixed it and he was right. Too early in the school year.
TCEA is my next favorite, but there is a huge problem with it -- too many days, not enough computer science and expensive. However, I'm trying to fix the not enough computer science and put in proposals for a Robotics and a CS talk. Last year I did a robotics one and a bunch of years back did a CS one. (Remember, I've been doing the CS teacher thing for 21 years, I should be contributing). Whem I've been lucky someone has foot part of the bill -- district had scholarships for about half twice, and Lego Education paid room last year.
SIGCSE is at the wrong time, usually right before our spring break whih my district won't let us take off. It was even in Dallas and I couldn't get away for it because of that.
I have been to SIGSCE once. It was good.
TCEA isn't at a great time either. Most CS teachers don't go to it precisely because of the timing. More would go if it were in the summer -- but then the ones that say that don't make it to CSTA either.
My biggest problem with CSTA, is the price point, though I could probably find some place near to the conference center to stay at and commute. Just didn't work out this year.