Speaker Proposal Guidelines

STAO/APSO Conference 2023

If you’ve attended a STAO Conference you know that it depends on the generosity of the 1000s of amazing science educators and partners willing to share ideas.

It is an opportunity to learn and come together to discuss best in-class resources support ALL students in Ontario. Our collective goal is for our students to reach their potential and develop a love of science and learning!

We’re so excited you’ve considered submitting a proposal by opening this page. Please peruse the pages that are linked from here to help you plan your proposal.

If you have any questions about the process, please don’t hesitate to ask! conference@stao.ca

Submission applications will open April 24 2023.

Theme – Immersive Experiences in Science

Strands – The Conference Strands have been chosen based on feedback from teachers on the needs of science educators in light of the new Ontario Science and Technology Curriculum. The Conference team will choose session proposals based on their alignment to the Strands.

  • Emerging Technologies
  • Coding
  • Engineering Design Process
  • CRRP and Equity in Science
  • Land Based Learnings
  • Indigenous Knowledge Systems
  • De-streaming
  • Curiosity and Wonder
  • Wellness

For all session proposals, presenters should consider opportunities for discussing:

  • New Topics in Ontario’s revised curriculum
  • Connecting to the demand for science within the skilled trades and arising fields including food literacy and climate change 
  • Inquiry and problem-based learning
  • Hands-on experiential learning

You should:

  • Connect your proposal to STAO2023 Theme and Strands
  • Reflect on your practice and expertise.  What can you share with STAO2023 attendees? What will your session be about?
  • Choose a session title.  The title should “sell” your session to conference attendees and help attendees understand what you will be presenting.  For many attendees, the session description may not be readily available when they are deciding which session to attend.
  • Write a short session description for the program and a paragraph explaining why this session is important.
  • Choose the appropriate strand, audience and format for your session with regard to the strand and format information that will help you choose correctly.
  • Review the following important policies/guidelines prior to designing your presentation and submitting your proposal:
    • Strands
    • Safety Requirements
    • Presenter Complementary Registration Procedure
    • Check for copyright. Ensure that you are using only original materials in your presentation, or have obtained permission to use materials from third parties.
    • Complete and submit your proposal using the Speaker Proposal Form by June 1, 2023.
    • When you submit your proposal, you will receive an automatically generated email with a program proposal ID number. Please keep this number and refer to it in any correspondence with us.

In submitting a proposal, you affirm full awareness and compliance with these policies/guidelines.

Please note:

  • Individuals who have submitted proposals will be notified by e-mail of the status of their proposal.
  • All presentation rooms will be equipped with an LCD projector and screen. Presenters are responsible for bringing their own laptops/devices, cables, speakers and adapters.

How to Write a Successful Session Proposal

Don’t devalue what you have to share!
The strength of a conference derives from the thousands of interested and interesting presenters. As a professional you have much to share with colleagues. You will learn and grow simply from the experience of presenting. Frequently the interaction among the attendees at a session will enrich the presentation and the presenter.

Additionally, many administrators are persuaded to support a teacher who is presenting at a provincial conference. Some will even support your attendance financially.

Pay close attention to the proposal application!
Follow all the instructions on the STAO site completely and carefully. Incomplete applications will not be forwarded to the proposal reviewers. If you are not certain that you know what information is being requested in a section, send us an e-mail at conference administration.

Short Session Description!
This is the summary that will appear in the conference programs (online and on-site). Because there is limited space (250 characters including spaces), choose your session title and description carefully. Let attendees know what to expect. Will resources be provided? Will demonstrations be included? See sample short session descriptions below.

“Participate in inquiry-based hands-on science activities that you can use with your students.”

“Examine and discuss a variety of formative assessment techniques to uncover common misconceptions and learning difficulties related to core ideas and scientific practices regarding matter and energy.”

Do submit proposals for conferences!
Even if your proposal is not accepted, the process of proposal writing is a valuable exercise and stretches you professionally. It is part of your personal development. Ultimately, though, do not doubt yourself.

The opportunity of presenting at a STAO conference provides so many advantages. If you are still not certain if you should present, go ahead and submit a proposal!

Session Format Options

Workshop: A one-hour session that provides participants with the opportunity to explore a specific topic. Presenters are encouraged to create workshops that are informal (i.e., allows for discussion) and participatory (i.e., interactive and hands-on).

Sharing Showcase: At the Showcase, teachers will share in a marketplace-style setting. The format is less formal and more interactive, allowing for one-on-one interactions. While your ‘idea’ should be portable, and provide participants a quick glimpse into an idea they might implement in their own class. It could include a display, sample work, hands-on samples, interactive technology. Showcase presenters will be given a time slot for the showcase, and will also have time to attend sessions.

STAO Playground: Is an interactive station within the STAO Playground designed to provide participants with an immersive experience or exploration during a designated time period. Playground stations must be hands-on and provide an opportunity for teachers to “play”. For example, a station could provide participants the opportunity to use a digital tool or to perform a STEAM activity. STAO Playground participants are responsible for providing materials/ equipment needed to run their session. Playground participants will also have time to attend sessions.

Conference FAQs

What AV equipment do you provide?

You will need to provide you own laptop computer. We do provide LCD projectors, wireless internet connections (caution: availability can be affected by number users), projection screens, power cords, tables and chairs in your assigned room.

What are the criteria for rating proposals?
      • The Program Committee consists of 8-10 people with teaching experience in grades 1-12, in all science disciplines. They are looking at the following:
        • Is the information provided in the proposal complete?
        • Is the proposed session topic timely and appropriate?
        • Is the proposed session based upon good practices?
        • Does the proposal clearly describe the proposed session?
        • Does the proposed session align with the Conference Strands? 
        • How does the proposed session address the Ontario Ministry of Education’s current focus/initiatives in science and teaching pedagogies?
      • Is the proposed session correctly linked to the new Ontario science curriculum?
      • All proposals are reviewed first for completeness, and then the panel of reviewers focus on your summary description. NOTE: To be considered, session proposals must be received by the deadline. Due to limited space, not all deserving proposals can be accommodated. Reviewers will prioritize proposals based on a balanced program – science disciplines and teaching levels.
I submitted my session proposal. Now what?

Your session proposal will be read for completeness and will then go to the Conference Program Committee for consideration. The Committee reviews all proposals. If your proposal is accepted you will receive a confirmation e-mail giving the date and time of your scheduled session. You will have an opportunity to respond to the confirmation; any changes to your session description must be made at this point. You must respond by the deadline given.

I received a confirmation form that my proposal has been accepted. What should I do now?

Read the confirmation carefully; your name, affiliation, title, and description will appear in the program as shown. Is everything correct? Make any corrections as necessary and reply to the e-mail by the date specified. If you need a letter to your administrator or supervisor to document your participation as a presenter, please indicate this and we will be happy to send you one.

How do we register for conference once approved?

One presenter (identified on the form) will receive complimentary conference registration. Other co-presenters will get a timed pass to attend their session, or have the option to register for the full-day through the normal registration process.

If more than one is presenting, can both get registration?

In the case of multiple presenters for one session, one presenter will receive complimentary registration for the day on which they speak.

The Speaker Proposal Form allows submitters to select which speaker will receive the complimentary registration

Other co-presenters must register for the conference as attendees and pay the conference registration fee, or will receive a timed pass for their session only.

Can I add or remove a co-presenter?

If you need to make a change please contact us at conference@stao.ca. Changes to co-presenters made close to conference may not appear on the printed schedule or online schedule.

I need to cancel my session. What should I do?

If your situation changes and you find you are no longer able to present at our conference, please inform us as soon as possible at conference@stao.ca so your space can be assigned to someone on our waiting list.

I did not receive a response to my proposal. Why not?

If you did not receive a response, there may have been a miscommunication or problem with the e-mail address provided. If you do not receive word by the last week of June, please e-mail us.

How will my session be listed in the print and web programs?

The Conference schedule will be available on the STAO Conference website in June and in the On-Site Program. This reflects the most recent information available at the time of publication.

I have questions about setting up for my session?

When you submitted your proposal, you were asked to identify the size of room for the presentation. The Program Committee will make every effort to place your session in an appropriate room; however, sometimes this may not be possible. You can check on your room allocation prior to the Conference. There is a 30-minute window between sessions to allow presenters to take down and set up their materials. We ask that presenters be cognizant of the incoming presenter and finish, and clean up in a timely way.

How many people can I expect to attend my session?

There is no way to estimate how many teachers will attend your presentation, but it is probably a good idea to plan for more attendees versus less.

What about handouts?
If your presentation materials are available online, please consider sharing a publishable link on the conference website.
For files not online, please send your handouts to conference@stao.ca before or after the conference, and we will add them to our website.

Safety Requirements – Policy for Presentation Safety

STAO/APSO promotes active learning in science, including at our conferences, but such learning must be structured so that it is safe for everyone.

Presenters are expected to model safe practice at all times, and consider that sessions take place in hotel rooms, not science laboratories.

Activities may need adjustment to suit the facilities.
If you have any questions about STAO/APSO recommended procedures, please refer to our safety publications “Be Safe!” and “Stay Safe!” available through the STAO/APSO Science Store.

All applications will be reviewed for Safety and, if necessary, presenters will be contacted by a STAO/APSO safety committee member for further discussions.

Safety considerations apply to all sessions, specifically to those involving:

  • Heat/Smoke source/Open flame
  • Extreme hot or cold materials
  • Chemicals
  • Biological materials including organisms (microorganisms, plants and animals)
  • Tools for cutting or building (hand tools)
  • Projectiles or moving objects
  • Electrical equipment (other than A/V)

For each relevant item, you must document the following:

  • How are those items used in your presentation?
  • Provide a complete list of all reagents being brought into and used during your sessions.
  • Who will be using them?
  • What safety procedures will be used?
  • Include a list of all Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Please note that you are responsible for bringing these for yourself and all participants as needed.
  • How will you be cleaning up or disposing of materials?
  • What safety instructions or warnings will be given during the presentation?

Terms and Conditions:

  1. STAO/APSO may require modifications to your session either before or during the conference to ensure a safe experience for everyone.
  2. STAO/APSO assumes no responsibility for loss of materials, equipment, supplies and personal effects brought to the conference site.


  • For Tools, scissors do not need to be flagged for safety.
  • For Electrical, batteries, motors and bulbs do not need to be flagged.

Presenter Complimentary Registration Procedure

  1. One presenter for each session will receive a complimentary registration for the day on which they speak.
  2. In the case of multiple presenters for one session, one presenter will receive complimentary registration for the day on which they speak.
  3. The Speaker Proposal Form allows submitters to select which speaker will receive the complimentary registration
  4. Other co-presenters must register for the conference as attendees and pay the conference registration fee, or will receive a timed pass for their session only.

Presenter Travel and Accommodations

A small budget has been prepared for approved presenters travel and accommodations. Please be sure to indicate your anticipated travel costs and desired accommodation requirements.