Tell us about the conference theme ‘The art of science’?  

 We hope to explore links between science and art as well as the art of ‘doing science’. There are many connections with art and science in the natural world. Tasmania is the perfect place to explore this theme, with the world renowned Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) based in Hobart. MONA will be hosting the welcome function on the Sunday for all our delegates.

Delegates will get a chance to walk through the amazing galleries, and then attend a lovely welcome function with Tasmanian food and beverages on offer.

 Throughout the conference the theme of art in science will be explored - we have over 140 workshops planned for teachers to attend and many of these have an ‘art in science’ theme.

One of our keynote speakers, Dr Drew Berry, is a biomedical animator at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne. He creates biomedical animations that combine cinema and science to reveal the microscopic worlds inside our bodies, and has also developed some public displays of his work - see White Night Molecular Kaleidoscope  - projecting images of viruses onto the walls of the State Library of Victoria.

Who are some of the keynote presenters and what food for thought will they have to offer delegates?

 Keynote speakers include UTAS VC Peter Rathjen (UTAS are proud sponsors of the event), Prof Brigid Heywood (on innovation), Dr Drew Berry (biomedical animation), Beth Fulton (CSIRO). Prof Greg Woods, professor of Immunology at UTAS will be giving this presentation to discuss his work with Tasmanian devils.

We also have a special speaking event called the Stanhope Oration, in honour of Roy Stanhope, who had a profound effect on the development of science teacher’s associations in Australia.

 Will delegates be able to tailor-make their own learning experience?  

The on-site workshops, presented by teachers, researchers and science professionals, cover a broad range of subject areas including Primary science education, Secondary science education, Lab technician skills and practices, Curriculum implementation and Teaching resources and innovations.

Workshops include:

  • ‘So you want to run a STEAM club at your school?’
  • ‘Inspiring Australia: overview of national STEM initiatives and funding grants available to Australian schools, teachers and students
  •   ‘Linking Science and the Arts in Secondary Schools’ 
  • Code Club - Bring Scratch into the classroom
  • Engaging students in STEM: An immersive science experience with real results

Workshops will be held [over] three days of the conference and delegates will have the choice of more than 140 workshops to tailor-make their own learning experience. 

How will the event’s Tasmanian location add to the learning experience?

Tasmania is the perfect place to explore the connections between art and science. Tasmania has a reputation for excellence in both the science and art communities. There are many examples of scientists who showcase and communicate their science through art and many examples of artists who use science as inspiration and develop works that communicate complex science to the general community.

 There will be a number of wonderful pre and post-conference tours on offer, as well as some off-site excursions.

The off-site workshops allow delegates to visit some of the host state's most eminent scientific institutions and learn about the work they conduct and the ways they engage with the education sector. 

Pre and post workshop tours include a Bookend Trust overnight excursion to Maria Island, a Wonders of Tassie produce excursion to the Coal Valley to visit local wineries, distilleries, cheese making places as well as the famous Barilla oysters.  

During the conference there will be a Rob Pennicott boat tour to Iron Pot, as well as some offsite excursions to UTAS labs, Cascade brewery and the Institute for Marine and Antarctic studies.

 Hobart was named one of the top 10 cities in the world to visit in 2015 by the Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel Guide; voted ‘Best Weekend Away’ in 2013 by Gourmet Traveller's Readers Choice Awards; the second friendliest city in the world by Conde Nast Traveler readers;  and Hobart’s internationally acclaimed attraction MONA, the Museum of Old and New Art, was voted ‘Standout Australian Travel Experience’ by Gourmet Traveler in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

 What can participants expect from the Trade Exhibition area?

CONASTA 66 trade area is always buzzing with people.  There will be nearly 50 trade booths this year, all located in a picturesque space at Wrestpoint which overlooks the Derwent River. This year we have a number of national and international companies hosting trade displays, which is very exciting.  Another very exciting element, is that our corporate partner Latitude Travel are offering an amazing prize to one lucky delegate - $20,000 STEM Latitude Travel STEM tour to any number of exciting international destinations. This will be drawn randomly in the trading space.

What is one thing that all delegates will come away with?

I don’t think there is just one thing. 

The conference provides a wonderful opportunity for science educators to exchange ideas about science teaching and learning and to maintain and develop national and international networks.

The Welcome Function on the Sunday prior to the conference is a great opportunity for people to make new contacts and reconnect with old ones. Each year's program includes an optional Science Breakfast and Banquet dinner, as well as Happy Hour drinks and nibbles events at the close of each day.

Post-conference tours of some of the host state's prime tourist spots are also available. We hope that delegates leave our conference with a reinvigorated enthusiasm for science teaching, have made new contacts, enjoyed the location and participated in some of the wonderful off site excursions and tours, and take home a vast array of new ideas and resources to use in their classrooms, labs and schools.

Why is it imperative that all Australian science teachers/lab technicians make sure they attend CONASTA 66?

 ASTA and the Science Teachers Association of Tasmania are committed to delivering a conference that meets the essential need for engagement, professional development and support amongst science teacher and laboratory technician communities.

 The vital role of Science, Engineering, Technology and Maths (STEM) in Australia's future is unquestionable, and the foundation of STEM excellence rests with Australia's STEM educators. CONASTA 66 is also held in the school holidays, which makes it much easier for teachers to attend.