Flinders looks to future with Science Summer School

Two hundred primary and secondary teachers from across Australia will broaden their teaching horizons and tap the latest scientific knowledge when Flinders University hosts the inaugural Australian Government Summer School on Science, starting today.

In turn, the University will access a wealth of ‘hands-on’ classroom experience from the participating teachers to further enhance its training of future educators, according to Flinders new Vice-Chancellor, Professor Michael Barber.

Flinders has drawn together expert speakers from Australia and overseas to present the ten-day series of highly interactive lectures, tutorials, workshops and field trips, starting today (Monday, 7 January).

As one of only six Summer Schools across Australia and the only Science Summer School, Professor Barber said the Flinders event “will merge the latest scientific knowledge with leading edge teaching techniques to extend the frontiers of science education and enhance student learning”.

Professor Barber said “the importance of science and, particularly, building and maintaining the skills and knowledge of our science teachers, cannot be overstated.”

”While few of the major challenges we face as a nation – water, climate change, health, economic growth – will be solved by science and technology alone, none will be, I believe, resolved without science,” Professor Barber said.

”Thus, it is imperative that the education of all of the next generation of Australians, no matter what career they might follow, needs to include a high quality, relevant and exciting introduction to science.”

Executive Dean of Flinders Faculty of Education, Humanities, Law and Theology, Professor Faith Trent, said the Summer School will explore an exciting and diverse range of issues.

“The program has been designed to stimulate and inspire the participating teachers,” Professor Trent said.

“One day, for example, teachers will hear from Western Australia’s Chief Scientist, Professor Lyn Beazley, on introducing young minds to the wonders of science while, on another, Flinders Head of Neuroscience, Professor Ian Gibbins, will present the latest insights into the nature of the brain and its impact on learning,” she said.

“We will have experts speaking on important contemporary issues like the potential for drug discoveries from the ocean, drought research and river systems, and the incorporation of virtual learning and robotics technology into our classrooms.

“Student population issues, including the teaching of gifted and talented students, indigenous students, and gender, cultural diversity and special needs will also be under the microscope at the Summer School.”

Professor Trent said a new, highly interactive web site would complement Summer School activities and be part of an on-going engagement with Flinders in the teachers’ professional development.

Flinders Summer School on Science is being held in conjunction with the University of New England which is hosting a Summer School on Mathematics in Armidale. The Summer School concept is an initiative of the previous Federal government.

The Summer School will take place in a number of venues on the university campus, including the Australian Science and Mathematics School. The event will be officially opened by the Director of the Federal Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, Mr Alan Hird.

The Summer School opening will also be the first official function involving Flinders new Vice-Chancellor, Professor Barber.

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