Dedication to Roy Stanhope

CONASTA’s cornerstone plenary event, the Stanhope Oration, is presented in memory of Roy Wilson Stanhope who had a profound effect on the development of science teachers’ associations around the country and in particular, ASTA.

Early Career

Born on 25 January 1902, Roy Stanhope began his 22 years of teaching in high schools in 1925 in Petersham NSW where he taught maths and science, and moved on to other high schools in NSW.

He served on the Chemistry syllabus committee for several years in the 30s, was an assistant examiner for the NSW Intermediate Certificate of Elementary Science, the Intermediate Certificate of Physics in 1939-40 and 20 years later, NSW leaving Certificate in Chemistry and Chemistry Honours. In addition to his school teaching he lectured in the physical sciences at Sydney Teachers’ College where for the last 17 years there he was head of the Chemistry Department. He was also a senior lecturer in science education and a lecturer in chemistry and physics in post graduate courses at the NSW College of Nursing from 1950 to 1967.

Early travels

Stanhope’s early travels as the NSW Teachers’ Federation Overseas Travelling Fellow, took him to Britain and the United States of America, where in 1938 he incorporated a one-year post-graduate study at Stanford University.

In the elementary schools he had visited he noted that attempts had been made to substitute a true elementary science for what had been nature study and that at junior secondary levels, a three year sequence of general science was offered. At high schools offering a four-year course, general science was compulsory for the first year and was followed in subsequent years by some specialisation.

Roy Stanhope was a strong advocate of general science and in his conclusion to the second of the three addresses he made a number of suggestions regarding a general science program. Stanhope — and remember this is in 1945 — said that the program should be planned to contribute effectively to the two principle aims of science teaching as an integral part of science education. These were:

  • the acquisition of an understanding knowledge of those scientific facts and principles of importance in everyday living, and
  • the ability to apply the scientific method in the solution of personal, civic and national problems.

Another of his points, very radical for the times, was that a program should be built upon a true elementary science course taught throughout the primary grades.

Relationship to ASTA

In 1945, Stanhope made another set of ten recommendations urging reforms to science education. These were far ranging and far-reaching. They had to do with radical reforms to teacher training, making science courses relevant and emphasising the need for proper laboratory and clerical assistance.

One of the ten recommendations is especially significant to ASTA. It has two parts:
that a national association of science teachers should be formed, and
that as one of its responsibilities it should set up the publication of an Australian Science Teachers Journal.

After repeated urging by the president of WA Science Teachers Association, Jack Oates, ASTA was founded in May 1951 during the time of the Congress of the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science (ANZAAS).


The first ASTA conference was a single evening session devoted to its formal foundation, the adoption of a constitution and an address by Stanhope on American Science Education. 40–50 members were present and it is from this beginning that we have grown to what we are now. 1951 also saw the revival of the NSW Association and the establishment of the SA Association largely stimulated into existence by Roy Stanhope’s earlier visits to Adelaide.

Formation of STAs

Over a period of time, Stanhope had corresponded with teachers in Tasmania and had aroused their interest in the possibility of forming a State Association. This became a reality in 1952 when the Tasmanian Science Teachers Association was formed.

In 1946, the Queensland Science Teachers Association was formed following encouragement by Stanhope who was teaching in northern New South Wales.

Roy Stanhope contributed to the establishment of three state associations and of course the national one, ASTA. He held offices in his state association having been secretary and serving five terms as President. He was also President of ASTA in 1966.

Australian Science Teachers Journal

It was not until the conference of 1953 that Hugh McKnight of STAV coined the acronym CONASTA and it was at CONASTA 4 the following year that Roy Stanhope’s second part to the WA recommendation of 1945 was realised – the decision to launch the Australian Science Teachers’ Journal in 1955. Roy Stanhope was its sub-editor for NSW from its first issue in 1955 until 1967 when he officially retired.

Stanhope published prolifically. He was responsible for publishing the Teaching of Chemistry in NSW and USA in 1932. He was also responsible for the first standardised test in any secondary school subject published outside of the United States.

Roy’s vision

Roy Stanhope’s vision is our vision and the leadership, dedication, enthusiasm, perseverance and expertise shown over such a long time have been acknowledged by the awarding of:

  • life membership of the NSW Science Teachers Association (STANSW) in 1965;
  • life membership of the Queensland Science Teachers Association (STAQ) in 1979; and
  • life membership of ASTA in 1964.

He was also awarded fellowships of the Australian College of Education in 1967 and in 1989 the Order of Australia for services to education, especially science.

Recognition for Roy’s contribution

In 1967, ASTA Council determined that the major address at each annual conference be named the Stanhope Oration in recognition of Roy Stanhope’s contribution to the science teaching profession.

Stanhope Oration | 4.30pm - 5.30pm | The Braggs

Kristin AlfordDr Kristin Alford

Dr Kristin Alford is a futurist and the inaugural Director of the future-focused museum MOD. at the University of South Australia. At MOD. Kristin leads a team of science communicators and designers developing immersive experience to showcase research and innovation to young adults. This work has been recognized by awards from the Asia-Pacific Network of Science Centres and the Australian Museums and Galleries Association.

Kristin is a member of the Accreditation, Recognition and Certification Committee for the South Australian Certificate of Education Board, and the Art & Culture Advisory Board for Lot Fourteen. She is actively involved in national and international science centre and museum networks and a globally recognised speaker on futures of emerging technologies. Kristin holds a PhD in mineral process engineering from the University of Queensland and a Masters of Management in Strategic Foresight from Swinburne University.

Previously she founded foresight agency Bridge8 where she led a team building foresight capability and developing emerging technology communications in domains including water sustainability, climate change, nanotechnology, education and health. She was the inaugural licensee and host of TEDxAdelaide and lectured foresight and social change at the University of Adelaide. She has had various careers in engineering, human resources, strategy and product development for companies including BHP Billiton, Ansett-Air New Zealand, the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria and Nanotechnology Victoria. In her spare time she volunteers with Rowing SA as a Boat Racing Official.

Stanhope Oration

The purpose of MOD. is to showcase research at the intersection of science, art & and inspire young people how to navigate their futures. In the implementation of our vision, the priorities of Stanhope can be seen – that the acquisition of science principles is important, that the application of this skills to problems is essential and that networks nurture the advancement of this cause. This oration will consider the ongoing importance of science education through the lens of informal learning at MOD. and the emerging skills and capacities needed for the future.

Stanhope Oration Presenting Partner        Australian Academy of Science