Our Education Officer, Peta Knott, started off the year with a trip to Boston – the Boston where it’s best to not mention tea! Here, she shares her experience of a conference where everything is bigger!

For me, 2020 started on a big scale. I had the opportunity to represent NAS at the biggest conference for historical and underwater archaeology in the US which was entitled ‘Revolution’ – a fitting theme for being held in Boston.

Everything about the conference was big and bold. A record number of 1,400 delegates attended the three-day conference, and we often had ten concurrent sessions to choose from. I regularly found myself dashing to and from lecture rooms to hear the latest discoveries on the Erebus and Terror wrecked under the ice in the Artic, how iron artefacts effect coral growth in Australia and how we should follow the lessons in advocacy from the International Space Station and public archaeology!

On many occasions I’d be sitting in a talk and suddenly the NAS logo would appear on the PowerPoint presentation to illustrate one of the many international Training Partners’ activities that are taking place in the US and around the world. It was so great to catch up with our many International Training Partners in north America. Based on chats in between sessions with other conference delegates – we might have a few more international training partners soon – watch this space!

I was also privileged to contribute to a very practical session on citizen science where it was inspiring to hear from similar organisations about how they engage with the public. I shared some of the hits and misses from some of our many projects over the last few decades including the Big Anchor Project, Adopt-a-Wreck, Licensee Succession Project and of course our Education Programme.

The other reason for me to attend was to represent NAS on a panel discussing the integration of Underwater Cultural Heritage (UCH) into the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development 2021-30. It was a very successful session that commenced with a summary of work to date on making sure UCH is included in the more environmentally focussed UN project. We then had some bold discussions about how individuals and organisations can get more involved with the Ocean Decade.

One of the ways that NAS is getting involved is by increasing the science component of our Education Programme ie. our Seasearch courses in Swanage and Farne Islands. Look out for more science-based learning in the coming years. If you are interested in being part of the bigger picture, sign up to be part of the Ocean Decade Heritage Network and stay in touch with upcoming opportunities.

Finally, I couldn’t visit Boston without experiencing some of the local culture! Fortunately, I found a traditional birchbark canoe at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology during the opening drinks of the conference. I also had time to pay my respects to those accused of witchcraft and found that Salem has an amazing maritime heritage. And I couldn’t resist attending the re-enactment of the Boston Tea Party experience where you can have a go at throwing the tea chests overboard. That’s one of the reasons I brought my own tea to Boston – just in case!

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