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Posted by SASTA

on 23/03/2021

The Annual Conference over the years...

SASTA held many professional learning events in its early years, however the first reference to 'the Annual SASTA Conference' was mentioned in the June 1971 Journal. The first Annual Conference was convened by Deane Hutton, Science TV presenter, and cost $1.00 for members and $2.00 for members!

In the 2010 Conference Program booklet, President Bronwyn Mart wrote "The SASTA Conference has built a reputation as being the premier professional event for science educators in South Australia. Our commitment to improving professional knowledge and skills, coupled with a desire to share our stories of success brings together teachers, lab officers, tertiary students and educators. The success of the Conference is due to the commitment and support of a range of individuals and organisations." This is all still true today and we are very appreciative of all the support we receive to keep the Annual Conference running after 50 years!

Take a walk down memory lane with some reflections from past Conference Convenors and a list of past Conference themes. We'd love to hear about your experiences with the Annual Conference over the years -

The Annual Conference has been an institution for decades. I was always amazed at the number of people who would volunteer their time to either help organise or present workshops to their professional colleagues. Having schools prepared to open their laboratories and classrooms made the job of organising the event so much easier. Over time, the conference changed venues less often. This way teething problems with supply of equipment, IT issues and catering would reduce as the school became familiar with needs of the conference. I always found the mix between cutting-edge lectures by local or interstate experts was well balanced by workshops presented by educators, where various activities and teaching ideas were presented and could be used immediately in the classroom.

Finding recipients for the various awards has always been difficult. Not because of the quality of the winners but due to the reticence of teachers to talk about their achievements. Teachers have always been team players, not wanting to stand out from the crowd. However, the talent of the various award winners made them worthy recipients.

It was inspiring to see teachers, both offering workshops and receiving awards, and how they were improving the academic lives of their students.

Chris Jordison, past Annual Conference Convenor & chair of the Professional Development Reference Group

My very first SASTA conference was in 1986, at a local Teachers College destined to become part of UniSA after the amalgamations in the early 1990s. It was an amazing experience for a brand new science teacher to listen to the likes of Dr Cliff Malcolm from Victoria, Professor Ian Lowe from Queensland and Professor Colin Power of Flinders University, SA. I was also blown away to hear the myriad of roles undertaken by Peter Schodde recounted during the testimonial read out before he accepted his SASTA Medal. The only down side was lining up in the cafeteria to buy our own lunch, which was not included in those days. All of the conference participants arrived after the students – preservice teaching students – had already formed a long queue, and most of us had to return hungry to the conference for the afternoon keynote. My recollection is that it was not long before morning tea, lunch and the Happy Hour were included in the cost of conference registration – a great improvement!

One of the most memorable presentations I have ever heard was the keynote at the 2018 SASTA Annual Conference, held at Adelaide High. While the title: Why is evolutionary biology more than just an academic interest, sounded a bit dry, Professor Steve Donnellan, South Australian Museum, Evolutionary Biology Unit came highly recommended as an entertaining and informative speaker. He did not disappoint.

The context for his talk was the Giant Australian Cuttlefish (Sepia apama), that each year aggregates to mate and spawn on a discrete area of northern Spencer Gulf, just north of Whyalla. Judging from the photographs and videos that Steve showed us, this is an amazing spectacle. Tens of thousands of these incredible creatures aggregate, demonstrating their expert colour changers and mastery of camouflage by changing shape and texture to look like the surrounding environment. Steve is part of a group looking at their population dynamics, as there are many threats to these amazing animals. One is their own life history, as the cuttlefish only live for 12–18 months and mating is the final act of their short lives. Steve regaled us with descriptions of their range of unusual sexual antics, easily witnessed by snorkellers and divers!

It is pleasing to know that a worrying decline in the population seen in 2013, has now been completely reversed, with record populations seen in 2020. This suggests that “boom and bust” are a natural part of the population fluctuations of the Giant Cuttlefish

Jane Wright, current Annual Conference Convenor & chair of the Professional Development Reference Group

Conference Themes

230321 Annual Conference 2

1971 Science and the community Salisbury Teachers College
1972   Bedford Park Teachers College
1973   Salisbury College of Advanced Education
1974 No information available  
1975 No information available   
1976   Torrens College of Advanced Education
1977 No information available  
1978 No information available   
1979 Science education & technology SA Institute of Technology
1980 Science teaching: a human perspective South Australian College of Advanced Education
1981 The why, what and how of teaching science Regency Park Community College
1982 Science teaching: our schools and their purposes into the 80s, putting theory into practice Roseworthy Agriculture College
1983 Is Science practical? South Australian College of Advanced Education
1984 Futures study and Science education 1984 - 2001 The University of Adelaide
1985 Changes in the value of Science Flinders University
1986   Flinders University
1987 Now & the future: implications for science education SA Institute of Technology
1988 Science for all The University of Adelaide
1989 Links Flinders University
1990 Excellence in science teaching Gilles Plains College of TAFE
1991 CONASTA held in Adelaide  
1992   Australian Mineral Foundation
1993 Science with meaning Adelaide Hilton
1994 Responding to changes in Science Education Adelaide Hilton
1995 Working scientifically Adelaide Hilton
1996 Students, Science and success Stamford Grand
1997 Science & the community UniSA, Levels Campus
1998 Kids and science UniSA, City West Campus
1999 CONASTA held in Adelaide  
2000   Walford Anglican School for Girls
2001 The State of Science: forging the future for South Australian Science Saint Ignatius College
2002 Teaching for Understanding: teaching and learning of science through its social context Saint Ignatius College
2003   Saint Ignatius College
2004   Saint Ignatius College
2005   Saint Ignatius College
2006 CONASTA held in Adelaide  
2007   Australian Science and Mathematics School
2008 Rise to the top Rostrevor College
2009   Rostrevor College
2010   Rostrevor College
2011 Happy 60th Birthday Immanuel College
2012 Sustainability Immanuel College
2013 Science: From the Classroom to the Workplace Immanuel College
2015 Light and Light-Based Technologies Brighton Secondary School
2016 Raising Standards of Teaching & Learning Brighton Secondary School
2017 Human Endeavours' Brighton Secondary School
2018 Spotlight on the Science in STEM Adelaide High School
2019 Thinking Science Pulteney Grammar School
2020 No Conference due to COVID-19  
2021 Science: saving the planet Pulteney Grammar School