Firstly, it represents great value. Three days at the ASE conference is still cheaper than one day on a course lead by the CPD companies out there. To visit only the exhibition is free, and this represents a useful day out as there is the open conference and other talks going on in there too.
Secondly it provides variety. I can learn about literacy strategies in key stage 3 and a workshop on microscale chemistry in the morning, then attend a lecture about the development of bilingual children and take part in a debate about practical assessment in the afternoon. There is so much on offer. Some might say too much.
Thirdly, everyone is there. This year I need to talk to exam boards about A-levels. I want to know where the pitfalls of the new A-levels will be, what the exam boards think schools will do about As level entries and what they know about what universities will expect. I want to meet publishers and discuss the discount I am getting for the new books I will be buying in September! More than that though I want to talk about resources that I want to see. Giving my opinion may mean that the gaps I see might be filled. If I don't ask about something I want then I won't get it.
This year I need to meet the Pearson book rep and find out who they are. I will probably by buying A-level resources from them. I want to see what I can get. I also want to talk to the OUP/Nelson Thornes and tell her how much I love kerboodle and ask about the likely updates to Advanced Physics for You and Calculations in A-level Physics. I also need to see the Hodder rep about the future of the little white revision guides. From all of them I want to see what support they will have for practical activities.
I want to see the A-level Physics boss from Pearson as I am confused about how we prove the radioactivity skill when it isn't included in any of the practicals.
I could spend a day just in the exhibition learning about science education by talking to the people there.
But more than just companies the experts within science education are there and I can hear from them and talk to them. I might even be staying in the same hotel as them. (I was in the same hotel as Michael Reiss and Prof Hal two years ago). Alice Roberts, Paul Hardaker, Martin Rees, Michael Riess, Tim Oates are all people I have heard speak. This year Fran Scott, Simon Mayo, and John Holman will be speaking.
Fourthly, I want to know what I don't know. Last year I spoke to Julie from Practical Action and it resulted in Year 6 having a great time making flood proof houses. It has actually really fired me up regarding the importance of renewable energies. Two years ago Brenda Naylor was kind enough to talk to me about primary science and Stuart was as helpful last year.
You go with aims, but you learn so much more.
Lastly, I get to see my friends and colleagues. I do think that the ASE conference is better because I am involved in the ASE. Taking a colleague is great and meeting up with people is even better.
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