Waco Gem and Mineral Club, Waco, Tx

7.5 Holding a Symposium


7.5: Holding a Symposium

Because it‘s a group event involving several presenters, not just one, organizing a symposium takes special advance planning. First, you need to select a topic that will be of interest to a number of people in your group and about which people may have differing but equally useful opinions and experiences to relate. The goal of a symposium isn‘t to come to a single correct answer to a question. Instead, it‘s to share information and tips that a variety of people have formulated in tackling the question at hand, thus giving everyone involved new insights and ideas to consider.

For instance, one good topic for a symposium is how to catalog a collection. Everyone seems to have a different system (see 5.2: Cataloging and Labeling Your Collection). It can be useful to hear how different people have organized their collections in different ways and can give kids a number of useful ideas for deciding how they may wish to catalog their own collections.

Another helpful symposium topic might be on cabbing and how to bring out the best shine in a cab. Different minerals have different characteristics, and some—such as jade—can prove difficult to polish. What sorts of techniques have different club members developed over the years? What sorts of polishing compounds would they recommend? What sorts of techniques have they used with different minerals? Etc.

Usually, a symposium has three or four presenters, along with a host or moderator. The moderator introduces the topic and then introduces each speaker in turn and makes sure they stick to their allotted time. Each person might talk for 10 or 15 minutes. At the end, the moderator summarizes, followed by opportunities for the audience to pose questions or to share their own thoughts, experiences, and insights in a follow-up discussion.

Kids themselves might organize, run, and participate in their own symposium. Or, they might come up with the topic, make the plans, and then invite adult members to serve as speakers, followed by questions from the kids.