The Australian Science Teachers Association Year in Review

By Vic, Dobos | Teaching Science, December 2014 | Go to article overview

The Australian Science Teachers Association Year in Review


Vic, Dobos, Teaching Science


The year began with the National Science Teachers Summer School in January. Forty-two teachers of science from across Australia gave up a slab of their post-Christmas break to come to Canberra for a deep, week-long dive into contemporary and cutting-edge science. You can read insights from the teachers and get a sense of the breadth and depth of the science covered during the Summer School at astanstss.blogspot.com.au.

The success of this major ASTA event lies in the lasting impact it has on attending teachers. Word is getting around: we recently received a staggering number of applications for the 2015 Summer School. This program remains a top priority for ASTA and its partner, the National Youth Science Forum.

ASTA was fortunate in 2014 to work closely with the Office of the Chief Scientist to deliver two timely and very relevant projects.

The first project was the creation of new publication, Australia's Future: Science Technology Engineering Mathematics. Launched at Parliament House on 19 March by the Australian Chief Scientist Professor Ian Chubb, this publication celebrates the great school, career and life adventures that can come from STEM. Since its release, over 1,100 people have downloaded Australia's Future from australiasfuture.com and over 10,000 hard copies were distributed to schools, teachers and students.

The second project was a Primary School Science Teaching survey. This project involved workshops, in-depth telephone interviews with rural and remote teachers and a national online survey. The comprehensive report released in October (asta.edu.au/programs/assist/primary_science_teaching_survey) provides some fantastic insights into current teaching practices and highlights areas of deficiency particularly in supporting teachers delivering the science curriculum. We will discuss the results more thoroughly in the March 2015 issue of Teaching Science.

After almost 16 months of hard work--planning, recruiting staff and education experts (teachers and laboratory technicians), conducting tenders and designing a website with suitable content and functionality--the soft launch of the new Science ASSIST: Australian School Science Information Support for Teachers and Technicians website in May heralded a significant milestone for this project.

The Science ASSIST website (www.assist.asta.edu.au) user base is steadily growing, and since the soft launch our staff and web developers have been stress-testing the site and making incremental changes and improvements. Finally, Senator Bridget McKenzie officially "cut the ribbon" on Science ASSIST at a Program Reference Group meeting at Parliament House, to formally mark the launch of this groundbreaking new resource for science educators.

These projects were undertaken alongside ASTA's many existing core programs and annual events. Each year, ASTA delivers a range of exciting and rewarding national projects that are offered to teachers of science across Australia. …

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