Helping bright young minds thrive 

The Scientia Challenge program features a range of exciting workshops taught over three days designed for gifted and talented high school students in Years 7-10.  

Developed and led by practising experts, the workshops follow a university-style investigative structure with intellectually-stimulating content. With the level of study aimed two years higher than the students' grade level, these dynamic workshops offer gifted students a rigorous and challenging program.  

2022 July Programs

Click ONLINE Student Programs or ON-CAMPUS Student Programs to book any of our July 2022 workshops. All courses are 3-day workshops. 

BOOKINGS OPEN from May 23, 2022.

To stay up to date with all the latest GERRIC Student Programs information, join our mailing list.

On-Campus: Scientia Challenge workshops Years 7-8

  • Think of your favourite movie. If it had no sound or music, would it still have the same impact on you? Film music and cinematic sounds enhance character, create mood and heighten emotion in films. A soundscape can make or break a film. In this workshop, you will explore the work of film score composers, Foley artists, and the impact technology has had on the history of film music. Using computer software, you will learn to produce and arrange sounds, compose and record music, synchronize sounds to video, and create a film score soundtrack. Film composers of the future, come on down!

    About the presenters

    Anthea is a violinist, teacher, composer and performing artist.  She has performed and toured with many well-known artists and bands over the years including Jimmy Barnes, The Real Mexico, Rob E.G and Jackie Dee. She has also recorded on tracks for film, albums and music videos. She performs regularly with Sydney Ensemble and also is part of a Jazz Ensemble - Cygan Groove. Having Studied at UNSW she completed her BMus/BArts majoring in Composition/Performance and Theatre/Film/Performance Art and has been involved in creative projects such as the SONBUQ project. She also received her Masters of Teaching at Sydney University and taught High School music at various schools including the Sydney Conservatorium High School where she was also a student. Anthea is currently teaching at the University of Newcastle and various schools in the area. Anthea loves teaching and performing. She was invited to represent Australia with Victor Valdes and Jimmy Barnes at the biggest Mariachi festival in the world in Guadalajara Mexico August 2019 and recently performed in the 2022 Kiama Jazz Festival and other events.

    Rodney is a graduate of the Conservatorium High School and Sydney Conservatorium of Music in violin performance. He has toured nationally and internationally with orchestras, the Real Mexico Mariachi Band, and Jimmy Barnes. Rodney is also a passionate music educator with an interest in gifted education and has studied with internationally respected violin pedagogues. 

  • In these face-to-face workshops, you will learn a range of fun improvised Drama games which align to cognitive processes and divergent thinking techniques. Use your multiple intelligences and general knowledge to create short scenes and build vivid memories of key concepts. These workshops help develop 21st century skills, critical thinking, creative thinking, communication, collaboration, teamwork and social skills, in high achieving students.

    About the presenter

    Alastair Tomkins is a multi-disciplinary performing artist, Arts Educator and Performance Manager of his College in Queensland. He has a passion for improvised performance and how improvising supports cognition and multiple intelligences. Alastair has previously presented at the Qld Association for Gifted and Talented Children conference and is an experienced workshop presenter for primary and secondary age children. He is also a multi-instrumentalist musician, TV quiz show champion, stand-up comedian and is a passionate educator of gifted and talented students.

Online: Scientia Challenge workshops Years 7-8

  • We will travel back in time thousands of years to the banks of the Nile river to study in an Ancient Egyptian school for scribes. Being a scribe was a highly respected profession demanding years of schooling. Luckily, we will focus on one aspect of the scribe school program, and indeed an amazing one: we will learn Ancient Egyptian mathematics.  

    During our classes, we will become familiar with the objects and tools Egyptian scribes used for writing – papyrus as paper and reed sticks as pens, and will learn how to make papyrus ourselves. We will learn which ancient papyrus was devoted to mathematical problems and the name of the scribe who wrote it.  We will explore the world of Egyptian numeracy and will practice writing Egyptian numbers. Our next task will be to learn Egyptian arithmetic, the ways of performing addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. From there we will come to well-developed area of Ancient Egyptian mathematics – to fractions and will learn which basic fractions can be found in the eye of Egyptian god Horus. As real students of a scribe school, we will solve a number of mathematical problems, including those from actual ancient papyri. 

    Ancient Egyptian scribes were very serious people responsible for measuring the land, calculating provision for army and constructing of pyramid, calculating taxes and writing down pharaohs’ decrees. Nevertheless, they found fun in mathematics and we will follow their steps and will look at the problem of counting houses and cats and mice as presented in the papyrus.  We will also learn how Ancient Egyptians calculated areas and volumes to build their magnificent pyramids, and what tool they used to align them by cardinal points. We will learn how to make this device so you can practice using it after the classes.

    About the presenter

    Tatiana is a researcher and teacher passionate about gifted and inclusive education, neurodiversity and educational psychology. She has studied physics and mathematics in Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT), then literature in Collège Universitaire Française and Russian State University for the Humanities. She has received Magister degree in physics (MPTI), Candidate degree in philology (RSUH) and PhD in literary studies (UNSW). She has published several papers on poetry and amusing mathematics and edited two special issues of academic journal on symmetry in culture and science. She has attended and presented on several Bridges festivals of mathematical arts, where she participated in several STEAM seminars and workshops. 

    Her teaching experience includes online course on history of mathematics for GERRIC (2022), several courses on history of mathematics and amusing mathematics for WEA Sydney (2017-2022), courses on history of literature and creative writing for undergraduate students of MIPT (2006-2011), course on mathematics and art for the students of Russian New University (2013-2014), and teaching Russian language and amusing mathematics in Sydney community schools and groups.

  • In this workshop, you’re going to learn how to develop stories that really are cutting edge. Using technology, some coding skills and of course a good sense for writing style, we’re going to learn a few ways to weave stories that are much more complex than can fit on a page. You’ll learn how to write a generator that can take a few parts and mash them together to make a thousand stories. You’ll learn how to write a non-linear story that will change depending on the choices of the reader. You’ll learn how to write stories that immerse readers in their environment around them. Of course, you’ll have to bring your own story ideas!

    About the presenter

    Daniel Judd is a current teacher who also coordinates the gifted education program at his school. Over the course of his 23-year career, he has devoted himself to providing for gifted students. He has taught with the GERRIC holiday programs since 2000. Daniel's experience includes teaching in NSW primary and high schools and he has worked in OCs, Selective High School classes, and with gifted programs in mainstream schools. Daniel initially completed his undergraduate studies in gifted education at UNSW, before later completing the Certificate of Gifted Education qualification. Besides Gifted Education, Daniel has a range of interests, from mythology to programming. Daniel has a particular affinity for debating, and the school team he coaches is considered one of the strongest in the state having reached the semi-finals of the highly competitive Premier's Debating Challenge in 2021.

On-Campus: Scientia Challenge workshops Years 9-10

  • Re-Introduction to Neuroscience tackles the biggest myth in the science classroom - "This stuff will never be useful." We utilise student-experiential learning to explore topics such as Artificial Intelligence, pseudoscience, ethics, and neuroscience to contextualise the scientific method to everyday life. The workshop is divided into four parts. Throughout the workshops students will learn to debunk popular myths by applying sceptical thinking; explore the ethical dilemmas associated with misinformation; recognise the various forms of scientific communication in the media; analyse the characteristics of the scientific method; and gain a new perspective on data interpretation. In the second half of the program, students will learn about concepts in neuroscience to appreciate the diversity of technology in STEM; learn to apply models to understand complex concepts; discuss the ethics of famous experiments throughout history; explore skills for effective communication; explore the importance of scientific literacy and scientific communication in modern society; and examine the misrepresentation of science in media through marketing.

    About the presenter

    Onur is a fifth year UNSW medical student with a passion for STEM education. He is the founder and director of Youth Neuro Australia, a not-for-profit which potentiates learning opportunities in STEM for high school and undergraduate students. Our SCINAPSE workshops, developed in collaboration with the High Potential and Gifted Education group at the NSW Department of Education and the Science Advisor for the Secondary Curriculum are designed for year 9-10 students to gain transferable skills offered by science in order to apply critical thinking and creativity in everyday life. Onur is also a Casual Academic in the NuraGili program and the UNSW Medicine Faculty. He was also a speaker at GERRIC’s Gifted Awareness Week celebratory event this year.

  • In the next 3 days of face-to-face learning, we will firstly be looking at the structure and function of the normal brain and spinal cord, before moving on to consider types of disease which can affect the brain and spinal cord.  You will have lots of opportunity to practice clinical examination of the nervous system on your classmates and we will be thinking about how brain disease or damage might be prevented or repaired.  Please note that the workshop involves viewing of preserved human tissue.

    About the presenter

    Dr. Ken Ashwell is an experienced GERRIC presenter and has 36 years’ experience teaching students at many levels (High school years 7 to 10; Undergraduate; Postgraduate Research), in a wide range of biological disciplines (anatomy, physiology, pathology, neuroscience, comparative anatomy, evolutionary biology, histology and embryology). He also have familiarity with vertebrate and invertebrate palaeontology, biochemistry, microbiology and genetics to the undergraduate level. He has developed and delivered popular education programs for High School students for 24 years. With the development of 17 anatomy videos and 38 adaptive online anatomy tutorials for UNSW medical and science students, Dr Ashwell is an expert in his field.

  • In our turbulent world, we have unprecedented access to information and knowledge like never before. Technology, social media and digital platforms have accelerated our knowledge exchange and learning, and continuously expand our horizons. But how do we know which information is reliable? How do we know certain perspectives are legitimate and based on evidence rather than just opinion? How can you tell if a resource is scholarly and based on researched evidence?  This workshop introduces you to the importance of scholarly research when formulating persuasive and informed arguments. It teaches you to conduct scholarly research using different databases and internet searching, filter relevant information and evaluate it. Furthermore, the workshop will teach you to read scholarly articles effectively, understand what you are reading and develop confidence in tackling complex material and vocabulary. Crucially, the workshop will refine your academic writing skills, from expanding your vocabulary, formulating fantastic thesis statements and logical arguments to tackling basic referencing skills and academic integrity. You will get the opportunity to work collaboratively, draft a research-based project of your interest and strengthen your understanding of academic integrity and plagiarism. As a scholar, you will also learn how to respond to feedback in a constructive and positive way, allowing you to effectively incorporate your teachers’ comments on your writing.

    About the presenter

    Maja is a researcher and teacher passionate about gifted and inclusive education, neurodiversity and educational psychology. Her research interests also include neuroscience, transdisciplinary pedagogies and the use of emerging technologies in educational contexts. She holds a PhD in English Literature; a Master of Education (Expert Teaching Practice: gifted and inclusive education focus); a Master of Arts in literature; and a Master of English and French Language and Literature (accredited by NESA).  She also holds a Cert IV in Mental Health. She is currently completing a Graduate Diploma in Psychological Science with specific interests in areas of neuropsychology and school counselling.

Online: Scientia Challenge workshops Years 9-10

  • You might have watched a science-fiction movie with intelligent machines or heard that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will change the world. In this online workshop, you will be introduced to some of the techniques used to make computers behave more intelligently (such as to beat humans in challenging games like chess or StarCraft SC/SC2, or to make complex decisions in stock markets).You will learn about various application areas of AI and then discuss potential benefits and issues (ethical or legal, for example) of some current and near-future uses of AI, such as computer games, self-driving cars, or other areas. 

    Most of the workshop will contain "hands-on" interactive online learning tasks introducing various AI techniques. You will learn about and experiment with different machine learning techniques (supervised, reinforcement, unsupervised) that enable artificial intelligence systems to learn from past experiences and improve their performance over time. For example, you will experiment with artificial neural networks (ANNs) that are inspired by how human brains work and learn.

     Using several other free interactive online learning systems, you will also study how artificial intelligence programs represent knowledge, how they solve problems by searching among potential solutions and how they make optimal decisions in game playing. There will be some programming, but you will be able to choose between activities suitable for different levels of prior knowledge (from complete programming novices to experienced advanced programmers) and interests. You will also think critically about some problems in machine learning, such as the impact of bias in training data.

    About the presenter

    Vladimir is an Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) educator with diverse teaching experiences, within graduate and undergraduate university programs (in Europe, Canada and Australia), university pathways programs for international students, New South Wales (NSW)secondary schools, extra-curricular student clubs for primary/secondary school students and the GERRIC student programs for gifted and talented. He is currently a part-time Casual Academic at UNSW.  

    He has written diverse artificial intelligence programs and published research results (e.g., about applications of artificial intelligence techniques to managing distributed computing systems). Vladimir is looking forward to helping GERRIC students start learning and loving this exciting area of human creativity.