Limerick Institute of Technology

2016 ISTA Annual Conference


It’s interesting to note how much the ISTA (Irish Science Teachers’ Association) annual conference has changed over the years. It has always been a place where teachers could meet and share ideas but in more recent times there has been a noticeable change in focus and it now also acts as a showcase for research into education in general and science education in particular; the entire three-day event could be classified as one long session of CPD.
This year’s conference (which will be held in the Limerick Institute of Technology) is no different and the emphasis is very much on ideas that you can bring back to the classroom.
The following are perfect examples of this:

Inquiry in the Physics Lab
Leah Wallace

Evidence in school learning
Stuart Naylor

Teaching enquiry through Mysteries Incorporated

Assessing inquiry skills in science

In my last post I noted that for me the highlight will be Professor Mazur’s lecture on ‘Educating the innovators of the 21st century’, but there’s plenty more on offer if that doesn’t grab your fancy. As a profession we are only just becoming aware of how much recent (and not so recent) advances in neuroscience can teach us about how students learn. So it’s very apt that Limerick’s own Professor William O’Connor will be delivering a talk on ‘The brain science of learning and its applications in the classroom’. Professor O’Connor has his own blog called on all things related to neuroeducation which you can either subscribe to or follow on facebook.
Everybody knows that kids love asking about space but teachers are just as prone to this as everyone else; what’s out there, how did it get there, where is it all going to finish up. Unfortunately none of these questions appear on the current Junior Cert science syllabus (or any Leaving Cert science syllabus for that matter) but the new syllabus looks much more promising, so it’s great to see that Astronomy/ Cosmology featuring strongly at this year’s conference – just look at what they’ve got lined up for us:

To catch a comet
Mark McCaughrean, Senior Science Advisor in the Directorate of Science & Robotic Exploration at the European Space Agency

Bringing the world’s biggest robotic telescope into your classroom
Liverpool Space Observatory

Inspiring the scientists and engineers of the future
Amber Gell, NASA

Primary teachers
Each year sees an increase in the number of primary teachers attending and indeed there is a special program for primary teachers.
It includes talks on the following:

  • Materials: Air & Water — Hands on science activities for the classroom
  • Inquiry Based Science Education & the Energy & Forces Strand
  • Teaching Science to Infants
  • A practical activity to demonstrate the importance of Earth Observation for the primary classroom

And of course there are always new ideas on show with the  Science-on-Stage gang so nobody will be left out.

It promises to be a wonderful weekend (the main events are on Saturday but it starts on Friday evening and finishes at 1 on Sunday afternoon).
See for all details, including a full program of events.

And a mighty thank you to all the organisers in the Limerick-Clare branch of the ISTA for volunteering to put in so much time and effort.

See you there!