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2012 National Science Teachers Summer School.

Now in its third year of operation, the 2012 National Science Teachers Summer School was again held on the campus of the Australian University, Canberra from Sunday, January 8 to Saturday January 14. This year, forty-five primary and secondary science teachers from all states and territories and systems participated in a week-long series of events that brought in the best of national and international science research interspersed with some fun and social activities.

Now in its third year of operation in the new format, the 2012 National Science Teachers Summer School was again held on the campus of the Australian University, Canberra from Sunday, January 8 to Saturday January 14. This year, forty-five primary and secondary science teachers from all states and territories and systems participated in a week-long series of events that brought in the best of national and international science research interspersed with some fun and social activities.

The National Science Teachers Summer School (NSTSS), is a joint venture between the Australian National University (ANU), the Australian Science Teachers Association, the National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) and the University of Canberra (UC). The primary purpose of the NSTSS is to expose passionate science teachers to cutting edge science and research that is occurring in and around the national capital and to inspire these teachers to incorporate their learning at the NSTSS into their classroom practice.

The participants gathered on Sunday evening for a welcome meal and it soon became apparent that we had a special mix of teachers in this group as friendships began to form and the group's passion for science teaching and learning became apparent through the lively discussion that was to pervade the whole week.

The first ANU lecture on Monday morning 'Lasers and Innovation' given by Professor Hans Bachor and Patrick Helean, had everyone talking as demonstrations of very powerful lasers are not common sights in our schools. It was spectacular stuff! This was followed by a series of laboratory visits that focussed on atomic physics, antimatter and computer tomography. Of particular interest were the sealed cans of antimatter that littered the lab. Was this a commercial ploy by the department to be launched upon the uninformed? The day ended with a live hook-up to the CERN Large Hadron Collider in Geneva. The two hour session that was conducted in collaboration with the National Youth Science Forum, was a highlight in many participants' eyes.

A 'Forensics and Science' lecture by Dr Tamsin Kelly at UC, kicked off the second day followed by a lively ninety minute discussion with Professor Ian Chubb, the Chief Scientist of Australia. Professor Chubb was keen to get direct feedback from science teachers about what needs to be done to improve science education in our schools. It was a great session and he certainly was given some great ideas to think about. More laboratory sessions at CSIRO preceded the NYSF student dinner at beautiful Albert Hall. The teachers were special guests at the dinner and thoroughly enjoyed the interactions with these bright young minds.

Wednesday was taken up with a long visit to Parliament House where we engaged with Simon Ray, the Parliamentary Education Officer, in an interesting hands-on workshop on role play systems, followed by a tour of the complex. The afternoon kicked off with a chemistry lecture, 'The Chemistry of Natural Products', by Dr Russell Barrow and concluded with a visit to the Canberra Museum to look at the fossil exhibition with Dr Gavin Young. A free evening followed which was just the tonic!

The Thursday morning program included an interactive session 'Biotechnology: science and ethics' by Rob Thomas from techNyou followed by a mind-blowing lecture by Dr Charley Lineweaver entitled, 'Cool Factoids about the Big Bang, Black Holes and Aliens'. Wow! Everyone is still talking about the passion and vigour that this man has for his field. The day ended with a fantastic visit to the Tidbinbilla Deep Space Tracking Station. The 'big dish', and an excellent presentation by Glen Nagle were highlights of this visit.

A lecture 'Climate Change and Evolution1, by Dr Janette Lindesay and Dr Adrienne Nicotra on Friday morning, was followed by ASTA's Online Learning Manager, Nigel Mitchell's presentation, 'Online Learning Communities'. With the advent of the Australian Curriculum, Vicki Stavropoulos, CREST Coordinator at CSIRO, presented an enjoyable and practical session on open investigations. The day was topped off with visits to Geoscience Australia and Questacon. Watching individuals do the 'free fair at Questacon was quite a highlight!

This brief report probably does not do complete justice to the many other aspects of this summer school, such as the wonderful conversations about science practice, the discussions about great resources to use in the classroom and the enjoyment had by all during the social gatherings during the week, to name but a few. The overwhelming reactions by the participants were of excitement, enjoyment and a connection to their profession, so much so that an oft-heard comment on the last day was, "Can we do this again next year?"[TS]
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Title Annotation:ASTA News
Publication:Teaching Science
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Mar 1, 2012
Words:835
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