UniServe Science News Volume 18 October 2001



Anne Fernandez and Kaye Placing
UniServe Science

CONASTA, the annual conference of the Australian Science Teachers Association, was held at The University of Sydney and was attended by 400 Australian and international science teachers, educators, and communicators. The theme for CONASTA 50 (held in July 2001) was Enriching Science Education - a golden opportunity.

UniServe Science was involved with four presentations during the five-day conference. See detail under News Items in this newsletter.

Other sessions attended

Public Forum - Turning kids on to science: Making the clever country a reality - interesting discussion with many attendees sharing similar problems:

  • how to attract the 'right' people to teach science;
  • how to ensure our primary teachers are confident and knowledgeable to teach science; and
  • how to encourage the good students to enter science as a profession.

Keynote - The Tasmanian Thylacine by Michael Archer - very entertaining and thought provoking.
Keypoints included:

  • possibility of cloning a Thylacine;
  • ethics of cloning;
  • dinosaurs did not become extinct, they evolved into birds.

The Unusual Environment and its Remarkable Inhabitants of Southeast Australia by Pat Vickers Rich - excellent presentation of fascinating material.

Using to construct a course web site by Richard Kent - hands-on workshop to demonstrate how the free site-hosted facility offered by blackboard is being used by a senior chemistry teacher to disseminate information to his students.

Dr Who and Auntie Who? - Agricultural crops and olive oil under scrutiny - by David Lamb and Paul Prenzler from Charles Sturt University. This presentation was to highlight the everyday aspects of science and scientific research. The presentation by David Lamb on remote sensing was interesting and particularly useful as one example he used was the monitoring of salinity problems.

Improving Investigations by Kathy Saunders - based on the ASE - King's Science Investigations in Schools (AKSIS) project (King's College London), this workshop identified and demonstrated a number of teaching strategies to support students as they carry out investigations. Particularly impressive was one that helped the student identify the independent and dependent variables and the controls in investigations concerned with observing and exploring relations between variables or factors.

Quality Teacher Program, Science Project 5.4 - Supporting Stage 6 Science - by Estelle Lewis. This project has Federal funding to produce teaching units for the new syllabus. These units might be as specific as a single dot point or more comprehensive. There will be four units for each syllabus - one unit in each syllabus must focus on:

  1. teacher centred instruction;
  2. cooperative learning;
  3. individual research; and
  4. assessment.
The material is being developed in a workshop environment. It was interesting that the example used drew heavily on resources obtained from or through the UniServe Science web site (i.e. nutrition in mammals including a nectar feeding possum). This project will complement the work being undertaken by UniServe Science (

Running Down: Water in a changing land - by Mary White. Covered many aspects of the problems being experienced in Australia with past, present and future water management.

Anne Fernandez
UniServe Science


Kaye Placing
UniServe Science

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UniServe Science News Volume 18 October 2001

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