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Friday, August 10, 2012

Unique Conference Experiences?

I'm on the organizing committee for a science education conference that we'll be hosting next July. We hosted the first one last summer, and it was a big success.

One of our goals is to be different from the typical scientific conference. For example, we have lots of time set aside for discussion within each session, we have workshops and 30 minute presentation times, all meals are provided and everyone eats together, and we try to bring fun and humor into the mix when we can.

There are a couple of regular conference events that we'd like to make a bit more interesting:

1. Welcome reception
Most conferences have a welcoming reception where people stand around eating finger foods and drinking wine. We'd like to have some sort of an ice-breaker activity in addition to this. Ideas that came up were things like geocaching or a building competition.

2. Banquet
Last time, we had a great speaker at the banquet. It was nice, but very "status quo". We're trying to think of some sort of entertainment we could bring in. Ideas for this that were thrown around were a stand-up comic (who talks about science, of course), a rock/jazz band, Cirque du Soleil (might be a bit over our budget, but an idea nonetheless).

Have you seen something cool done at another conference that might work, or do you have any ideas? Let me know in the comments!