UNG hosts science education conference
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The University of North Georgia (UNG) College of Education with support from the College of Science & Mathematics co-hosted the annual Georgia Science Teachers Association (GSTA) District 2 and District 12 Conference, also known as the Experiential Learning and Inquiry for Physical Science Educators (E.L.I.P.S.E.) Conference.
Held on Jan. 28 on UNG’s Gainesville Campus, the event was open to the public and had more than 50 participants. The E.L.I.P.S.E. committee used the event to build a pipeline of educators working together, building relationships, and exchanging information.
“The biggest significance of this conference is that science happens in the real world. We have to be emotionally open and prepared to learn. We have to make a meaningful connection,” Dr. David Osmond, UNG associate professor of science education and E.L.I.P.S.E. committee member, said. “I saw my students learn how other educators demonstrate their flexibility in facilitating a lot of activities. Things don’t always work right, and I hope that they see what it looks like from people who have teaching experience.”
For 36 years, E.L.I.P.S.E. committee member Frank Lock taught high school chemistry and physics. After attending the 2014 GSTA conference and noticing a low number of north Georgia educators, Lock contacted UNG faculty member Dr. JB Sharma to arrange a science teachers conference at UNG’s Gainesville Campus. Dr. Sharma, now an emeritus professor, was strategic in arranging the first E.L.I.P.S.E. Conference, and the conferences that followed it.
“Since I retired in 2009, I have remained active doing outreach to students and teachers, and attending science teacher conferences,” Lock said. “The conference has provided excellent professional development for science teachers in the north Georgia region, with about 400 teachers participating since it began.”
Now, the collaboration between UNG, Brenau University and the GSTA provided teachers in Northeast Georgia with current physical science teaching ideas. The conference fee ranged from $5 for students to $15 for the public, aiming to make it affordable for all, and was the result of sponsorship and fundraising efforts.
The biggest significance of this conference is that science happens in the real world. We have to be emotionally open and prepared to learn. We have to make a meaningful connection.
Dr. David Osmond
UNG associate professor of science education, E.L.I.P.S.E. committee member
The event’s participants were able to participate in hands-on activities and breakout sessions, plus hear from Dr. Misty Bentz, a Georgia State University professor of physics and astronomy who served as the conference keynote speaker.
“Many educators do not have an opportunity to attend workshops like this at an affordable cost. Students majoring in education at both Brenau and UNG also gain ideas on how to incorporate science phenomena into the classroom. All educators need ideas to support the bright young minds of the children attending schools in our area,” Dr. Karen Henman, associate professor of science education at Brenau University, said.