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Science education across the pond

30 March 2012

I didn’t really know what to expect from Indianapolis. I knew about car racing and the Super Bowl, and the only sword swallower of my acquaintance lives here. It is well-known as a conference venue, and that is why I’m here with Lynne Horton, Chair of the ASE, and her daughter, a beginning science teacher.

We are at the National Science Teachers Association’s Annual Conference, the American equivalent of theASE. I’ve attended the conference twice before, and the President of NSTA, along with its Executive Director, and a couple of others, usually come to our Annual Conference, so it was good to catch up with them before the event got under way. 

The NSTA Conference is overwhelmingly huge. There are around 10,000 visitors and countless parallel sessions. I generally go around looking for ideas and picking up tips and these are my random jottings.

  • There is a huge exhibition – NSTA is recognising the long-term exhibitors in this 60th year of their Conference – a very good idea.
  • I have been listening with great interest to experiences from many countries of the introduction of new National Curricula – such as the Science Standards in the US and the Chinese National Curriculum. I've also heard the experiences of countries when taking part in the TIMMS and PISA tests, including South Africa, which came bottom of the TIMMS league table in 2003.
  • As I write, I’m off to an “Elementary Extravaganza” to see how Primary Science is moving forward here in the US. Tomorrow one of our own leading lights in Primary Science, Steve Marshall, will give the ASE Honors Lecture and will talk about Primary Science Quality Mark among other things. 

Of course, we’re looking forward to events that will mark our 50th anniversary next year, and given the warmth of our welcome and the numbers who visit us regularly, I am determined to include our International colleagues in the celebrations.

So, a lot about the conference, not so much about Indianapolis. I must find out some more in the next couple of days!

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