Athens, Ga. — The city of Athens and the University of Georgia are hosting more than 1,000 science teachers from across Georgia as they gather in the Classic Center and UGA science laboratories during their annual conference this week.
The conference provides science teachers with new ways of implementing science into their classroom practice through sessions, nationally known guest speakers, books and science materials that serve the educational needs of science teachers. In addition, teachers will be able to visit several of UGA’s science research laboratories where faculty are preparing tours and teaching materials for teachers to take back to their classrooms.
This is the first time in the Georgia Science Teachers Association’s (GSTA) 55-year history that Athens has had an opportunity to host the event, which changes its venue every two years.
The conference opens Thursday morning with a welcoming session featuring Athens Mayor Heidi Davison, Dean Louis Castenell of UGA’s College of Education; Jim Porter, national president of the honorary science society Sigma Xi and UGA professor in ecology; and the morning’s main speaker, Michael Padilla, professor emeritus of the College of Education and immediate past-president of the National Science Teachers Association.
More than 175 concurrent presentations will be made daily with sessions taking place in the Classic Center. Teachers also will be involved in field trips including visits to businesses involved in manufacturing Formula One race cars in Braselton and power transformers in Athens. They will see campus research laboratories investigating tropical diseases, creating stem cells, and exploring Georgia’s geological history. In the evenings, they will see the solar system through UGA’s observatory telescope.
In addition, conference sponsors will have on exhibit myriad books and educational materials for teachers to review. On Friday, featured keynote speaker Jo Anne Vasquez, who serves on the National Science Board, will speak about building a stronger foundation in America’s educational institutions, and Jeffrey Bennett, an astrophysicist whose work with NASA has expanded opportunities for children to connect with space, will give a presentation.
During the evenings, teachers will sample culinary preparations of insects at the State Botanical Garden, visit the Georgia Museum of Art and share cultural dances performed by some of UGA’s international student organizations. On Saturday, the GSTA will recognize some of the state’s best science teachers at its annual awards banquet.