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Workshop boost for middle school science teachers

By Patrick Nelson

Middle school science teachers Jennifer Frank, Bonnie Chapman, Alexander Rathbone and CDU’s Dr Terry McClafferty at the science workshop Middle school science teachers Jennifer Frank, Bonnie Chapman, Alexander Rathbone and CDU’s Dr Terry McClafferty at the science workshop

Australia’s increasing reliance on a knowledge economy and the long-term decrease in secondary school science graduates underpinned the reasons for a skill-building workshop for middle school teachers in Alice Springs recently.

Charles Darwin University Lecturer in Education Dr Terry McClafferty said Australia needed to encourage more high school students to participate in mathematics and science courses.

“It begins with middle school students being exposed to enquiry-based laboratory activities,” Dr McClafferty said.

“Australia’s future prosperity depends on knowledge, ideas and innovation, and for this we need more scientists, engineers and technicians.

“Part of the solution is to have knowledgeable and better trained science teachers who are competent at engaging students, particularly during the middle school years when a student’s interest in science crystallises.

“Up-to-date content knowledge and knowledge of contemporary school laboratory practices is a key element in achieving this.”

Dr McClafferty said 10 science teachers took part in the workshop, which was presented by academics from Curtin and Sydney universities.

“Charles Darwin University is part of a consortium of universities led by the University of Sydney that received a $1.9 million grant from the Australian Government for the Advancing Science and Engineering through Laboratory Learning program.

“Our Centre for School Leadership has been working with staff from the University of Sydney to deliver the workshops as part of a strategy to develop partnerships between teachers and academics to produce and disseminate practical activities.”

More workshops are scheduled to take place over the grant’s three-year program, with the next to take place at Darwin High School next month.