National Congress on Science Education 2006 Is a Success

The seventh annual National Congress on Science Education (NCSE) met July 19-22, 2006, in Toronto, Canada. One hundred three science education leaders nationwide gathered in this dynamic and diverse city and shared their unique local perspectives during a robust discussion of many of the pressing issues science teachers are facing today.

The NCSE is an independent body that focuses on science education from a local perspective. The 58 NSTA Chapters and Associated Groups (CAGs) send one voting delegate to the forum. This year’s theme was “Cooperating Without Boundaries.” A plenary session set the tone for the entire Congress meeting and five focus groups addressed topics with “Cooperating Without Boundaries” as the underlying theme. The focus group topics this year were:

After a daylong discussion on these issues, Congress delegates created 17 resolutions that fell into three categories:

  1. Resolutions that make an issue statement from the Congress,
  2. Resolutions that inform or ask information from the CAGs,
  3. Resolutions to be sent to the NSTA Council for the attention of NSTA.

Members of the NSTA Council observed the Congress debates and actions and made recommendations to the NSTA Board about each resolution.

Two new events were added to the NCSE agenda this year: a Gallery Walk encouraging attendees to offer input to each focus group, and Round Table Discussions that encouraged Chapter and Associated Groups to share ideas on current association issues.

In addition to the focus groups, NCSE also provided workshops on leadership development. Each NSCE Participant could attend four of the 16 workshop offerings. Some participants also chose to observe the NSTA Council Meeting and the NSTA Board Meeting as a part of their NCSE experience. Some delegates commented that attending the NSTA Council and Board meetings provided them a valuable tool to assist them as they conducted meetings in their states.

As established by the NCSE Operating Policies, a six member Planning Committee develops the annual NCSE. Three members are elected from the Congress Delegation and three are from the NSTA Council. The NSTA President and Retiring President also serve on the planning committee.

The NCSE Planning Committee uses member surveys, past Congress evaluations, and NSTA member input to design the NCSE program. NCSE attendees also gain from meeting with their colleagues from across the United States and Canada and networking during the event. The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and NSTA State Chapters and Associated Groups financially support NCSE.

Evaluations from the Toronto meeting indicate that the event was a tremendous success. Several participants who had attended past congresses remarked that the experience gets better every year and has enabled them to become better association leaders.

Discussions are already underway analyzing the NCSE 2006 evaluations and planning has begun to make the 2007 Congress—to be held in San Antonio—even better!

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