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ASE Annual Meeting

The Association for Science Education's annual conference is held this year at the University of Reading from January 8-10. More than 4,000 delegates from all over the world will participate in a programme of workshops, lectures and displays, catching up on innovative ideas in teaching, the latest equipment and publications, and sharing news and views with their colleagues.

Among the 300 sessions, highlights include the keynote lecture, a tradition inaugurated this year, to be given by Charles Clarke, Education Secretary, and the presidential address from Sir Peter Williams, chair of the Engineering and Technology Board.

There will be themed days for subject areas, including biology, astronomy and technicians. A one-day international conference on January 7 will be followed by a series of workshops on global themes on January 8. There will also be a Primary Science day, with Lord Puttnam the Primary Science speaker this year.

An exciting dimension will be a series of lectures entitled Frontier Science. These will be given by the University of Reading's academic staff and feature such topics as climate change, farming and conservation, genes and heart disease, using physics to engineer at extreme depth, the medieval technology of indigo, earthworms and contaminated soil, and chemistry at the origin of life.

Classroom-focused sessions will be available on practical activities across all key stages in subjects as diverse as plant enzymes, fibre optics, microelectronics, rock erosion, music and science in the primary school, mime, photosynthesis and genetic modification of jellyfish.

Special events will range from a lecture on meteorites from Dr Monica Grady, who is giving this year's Royal Institution Christmas lectures on extra-terrestrial life, to a demonstration of science that looks like magic (chemistry) and a series of talks on plant power and health and disease.

Among this action-packed programme, there will also be chances to catch up with key developments in science education, like the new national science learning centre and to find help with teaching special needs.

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