For years now, one of the biggest events each year in my diary is the ASE Annual Meeting. This might make me a sad person in some people’s eyes but it’s got to the stage where I should admit it. I love it. For three days (four, counting the International Day) thousands of people meet to talk about science education. These are not only some of the most knowledgeable people but some of the nicest – and the most positive. Go to a workshop and ask a question: the chances are you’ll get a range of solutions. The prospectus has dozens of sessions running at any one time; in fact, the biggest headache is choosing which to attend.
It’s always the first weekend in the year (unless it would clash with New Year), which means the planning has to be done the year before. Now that takes some discipline for someone such as me. This year Collins sponsored a set of workshops I ran, which meant that those of you who came went away with Collins pens, Collins memory sticks and the must-have accessory of the conference, the Collins conference bag. Some people even came to several – evidently the bags were a strong draw.
A couple of the sessions had a focus on developing literacy skills (one of them on the six mark questions) and a couple on revision strategies. Participants in one of these found themselves in an activity called ‘speed dating’, in which topic revision is done by asking your ‘dating partners’ scientific questions. Fantastic tweet the following Monday from @MrsDrSarah, who’d tried it out with Y11 students “who liked it a lot”.
Biggest turn out though was for the sessions on using iPads in science lessons. Now, this is an idea whose time has come and I’ll return to it in future blog entries. One of the things that prompted a significant number of questions though was the stand I used. Rather like a miniature lectern, it holds the iPad above the table and at an angle. Apart from being convenient, it also means the camera can easily be used as a visualiser. Any smallish piece of equipment or student’s work is projected for all to see (the iPad will connect to a projector using a VGA-Apple dock lead). The image can also, of course, be recorded (or videoed in the case of an experiment) for future reference.
If you couldn’t make it to the Annual Meeting, you missed a treat. In 2014 it’s at Birmingham University from January 8th to 11th. If you’d like the presentations from the Collins workshops this year, go to http://prezi.com/user/collinsscience
Ed Walsh is Science adviser for Cornwall Learning. In the past, he has worked extensively with teachers, schools, local authorities and national agencies in relation to science education.