At the cutting edge

29th December 2000 at 00:00
Victoria Neumark previews this year's special centenary ASE annual conference

The Association for Science Education (ASE) holds its 2001 annual meeting at the University of Surrey, Guildford. In this special year, the centenary of its founding, the ASE celebrates its members with a Science Teacher Festival. Four thousand delegates from all over the world will attend 500 lectures and workshops over three days, enjoy a busy social calendar including an attempt to break the world record for plate spinning, and share the presentation of The TESPfizer Science Teacher of the Year awards, as well as Oxford University Press prizes for outstanding work in primary and secondary schools.

Professor Patrick Dowling, vice-chancellor of the University of Surrey, will give a special address marking the start of his tenure as president of the ASE. Other key lectures will include Professor Sir John Krebs, chairman of the Food Standards Agency, four talks by different organisations reflecting on a century of genetics, the British Society for Cell Biology presenting studies on wound healing, Dr Monica Grady on moonrocks and meteorites, and Dr Colin Wright on the physics of juggling.

Teams from the University of Surrey will be presenting fascinating, cutting-edge science from their research into topics as diverse as atomic nuclei, air quality, time travel, prevention of cancer, clean water, image processing and artificial intelligence, geometric-algebraic concepts of evolving shapes, and biofilms as friends or foes. Other speakers will be from the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council and the Department for Education and Employment.

Two of the three days will have a full programme of talks and discussions aimed at teachers of children with special educational needs, including close looksat key stages 1 and 2, special needs in mainstream classes, and science for pupils with moderate learning difficulties.

Another focus will be the latest on KS3 science, including reports by the DFEE on the pilot strategy; new resources and ways to teach scientific enquiry, values, thinking skills, ideas and evidence; and new practical experiments. A series of talks and workshops from examination boards and practitioners will look at the new AAS levels, new GCSE single and separate sciences and differentiation at primary and secondary levels.

This year, thinking skills are being promoted as never before, and delegates will find all sorts of essential stimuli, from demonstrations of concept cartoons to "radiant mapping", or from talks on evidence-based teaching to examining teachers' own beliefs and their impact on students.

Discussions will be intense on such subjects as the interface between school and university, target setting, bio-ethics, global influences on research and global warming. Hands-on workshops include sessions on equipment, poetry in the primary science classroom, rocket-making, portable, affordable, simple science (PASS), making science games and robotics.

Equally thrilling and up-to-date will be an exhibition space of more than 3,000 square metres with educational resources from 200 publishers, both for new exam syllabuses and for the primary school. There will be displays by many organisations offering posters and equipment and the ASE's own bookshop will have a large stock of books for sale.

See Talking Shop, page 5 The ASE centenary meeting takes place at the University of Surrey, Guildford, from January 4-6. It is possible to register on the day - go to the registration desk where ASE members will be on hand to help. ASE, tel: 01707 283000

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