For anyone involved in science education, the start of the new year and the annual meeting of the Association for Science Education are synonymous.
For more than 100 years, the ASE meeting has offered a chance for teachers, examiners, researchers, scientists, educational publishers, manufacturers of resources, industrialists and many others to celebrate science education. The event, taking place this year in Birmingham from January 3-5, is far more than a conference - it is a meeting of minds.
Over three days of professional development, networking and socialising, delegates from more than 50 countries - including the USA, China, Korea, Australia, South Africa and Pakistan - engage in a wide range of activities.
Virtually all aspects of science education are included:
* Cutting-edge scientific lectures
* Sessions with representatives from industry and research councils
* Hands-on workshops given by leading in-service training providers
* Policy briefings delivered by high-profile educationists
* Informal talks and spontaneous discussions over coffee.
At the heart of the ASE's annual meeting are teachers and technicians who have the commitment and imagination to make science lessons stimulating for their students.
We can only continue to enhance science teaching by opening up debate and encouraging innovation. And we must find ways to free up the curriculum and the testing regime to allow time for teachers and pupils to reach their potential.
The ASE is committed to working with individuals and organisations to make this happen, so that the energy of the annual meeting can be sustained throughout the year.
Dr Derek Bell is chief executive of the Association for Science Education. For information on the ASE, see www.ase.org