When the summer finally comes, the leafy expanse of the Warwick University campus will be the setting for Life Science 2000, probably the UK's biggest, best and most innovative event in biological education ever. Whether you teach in primary, secondary, tertiary or in initial teacher training, if you have an interest in life sciences you are invited to come and celebrate the fact in the company of like-minded people including David Bellamy, many of Britain's leading providers of lifescience in-service training, and teachers and biologists of every description.
The event aims to create an environment where all who care about biological education can renew their enthusiasm and self-esteem, share new ideas, promote a positive image of life sciences to the world - and have a good time as well. What people in the Sixties and Seventies used to call "a good scene".
LifeScience 2000 offers a choice of more than 60 workshops from which a delegate can assemble a personalised Inset course of up to eight items at an amazingly low price. All eight could be specifically for primary, for secondary or tertiary, or a delegate could select a mixture including many which are cross-phase.
At LifeScience 2000 you could identify your first creepy crawly, record your first quadrat, dip your first pond, carry out your first "t" test or pour your first agar plate. If you are already an old hand at some or all of these you will nevertheless find no shortage of new things to learn, such as advanced work with DNA or the Internet, or the opportunity to get into dung beetles for the first time. Perhaps you may want to find out what is meant by "tardigrades" and "fast plants", and what the Botanic Garden Education Network means by "sex, drugs and botanical fulfilment".
Keynote speakers will include David Bellamy, Anthony Campbell of the Darwin Centre, David Walton of the British Antarctic Survey and leading figures in biological education including Michael Reiss and Roger Lock. On the Friday evening there will be debates on controversial issues such as animal welfare, healthy eating and the environment. On the Saturday evening there will be the particularly innovative "Biology after Dark" event with bats, glow-worms, moths, nocturnal barbecue and things that go "squeak" in the night.
LifeScience 2000 will bring together a unique mixture of people involved in life-science education. At the final session, on the Sunday morning, every one of them, after eating, sleeping and genuinely enjoying life sciences for 48 hours, will have a useful contribution to make.
There is really no doubt but that the life sciences have a huge amount to contribute to the education of everyone. There will be some significant keynote speakers but everyone will be involved in shaping the future of life-science education. There will be some outcomes that we shall want to communicate directly to the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority. But many of the outcomes will apply to ourselves.
There was a time when biology in schools looked like a threatened species. The organisers of LifeScience 2000 believe that the time for grumbling is now over. How green is the future? The future is in our hands and it's as green as we want to make it.
Life Science 2000, University of Warwick, June 12-14.
The conference is organised and sponsored by the British Ecological Society, the Institute of Biology and the Linnean Society, in association with Action for Biology in Schools and the Field Studies Council.
For more information contact LifeScience 2000, co Dr Susan Barker, Institute of Education, The University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL. Tel: 01203 523897. Fax: 01203 523237 Email: email@example.com Dr David Slingsby is head of biology at Wakefield Girls' High School, programme co-ordinator of LifeScience 2000 and honorary secretary of the education and careers committee of the British Ecological Society