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.  

2023 January Programs

Click ONLINE Student Programs or ON-CAMPUS Student Programs to book any of our JANUARY 2023 workshops. All courses are 3-day workshops. 

Please be aware that dates online and on-campus workshops differ.

BOOKINGS OPEN from 10 November, 2022.
ONLINE SCIENTIA OPTIONS | 9TH 10TH & 12TH JAN
ON-CAMPUS SCIENTIA OPTIONS | 11TH 12TH & 13TH

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

  • In this face-to-face workshop, you will be introduced to concepts and principles for designing Virtual Reality (VR) content. We will cover design thinking, storytelling, visual content creation and interactive design. It will involve experiencing VR content with current technology, analysing existing products and creating your own VR prototypes. You will learn about immersive technologies (hardware and software) and get started as immersive experience designers for the future metaverse.

     

    About the presenter 

    Dean is both a Sessional Academic and Educational Designer in the Built Environment. His teaching covers digital communication, filmmaking, games and immersive environments. He also supports the staff in capacity building, digital uplift, development of fully online courses, as well as best use of Moodle and other tools. He has taught GERRIC workshops for many years.

  • 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. We will focus on one amazing aspect of the scribe school program: Ancient Egyptian mathematics.   

    During our classes, you 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 explore the world of Egyptian numeracy and practice writing Egyptian numbers. You will learn Egyptian arithmetic. 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! We will follow their steps and 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 will learn how to develop cutting edge stories. Using technology, some coding skills and of course a good sense for writing style, you will learn a few ways to weave stories that are too complex to 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. Writing a non-linear story that will change depending on the choices of the reader is another highlight. You will 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. 

     

  • Note: this course is a multi-grade course not just restricted to this year level.

    Chess exercises both sides of the brain. The game of chess requires a lot of “if this, then-that” scenarios, requiring players to imagine all the potential moves, alternatives and outcomes of each possibility. One study, conducted by Robert Ferguson, executive director of the American Chess School in Pennsylvania found that kids who had been playing chess versus computer games scored 13 percentage points higher in critical thinking and 35 percentage points higher in creative thinking. Studies have shown that children who play chess regularly significantly improve their visual memory and concentration. 

    A fantastic aspect of chess is that the game rewards you for concentration and penalizes you for losing it. Lose focus and you lose a piece, or worse, the game! Maintain focus and you're likely to win! This aspect of the game of chess gives a child's brain a fun incentive to stay focused while playing!  

    The game of chess is a game of problem-solving, planning, and foresight. Being able to think through changing variables and formulate a plan based on various possibilities are invaluable skills necessary for the game, and more importantly, for life! 

    Studies show that activities that connect children with others (especially their parents) can have a powerfully positive impact on overall brain health. Unlike video games or TV, chess builds human connection through healthy competitive play. Teaching a child to play chess not only builds a healthy brain, but it also reinforces positive relationships and builds lasting memories.

    About the presenter 

    Ehsan currently works for Sydney Academy of Chess.  Growing up playing chess, he has always looked at this game as more than just a hobby. Currently Ehsan coaches primary school students in more than 30 public schools across NSW. He hold two master's degrees. One in international relations from Melbourne university and a master of sociology from Fullerton university. Ehsan loves all aspects of social sciences and often uses chess concepts as metaphors for international relations scenarios and vice versa. In addition, Ehsan works on an independent paper which is focused on resolving the epistemological inconsistencies of international relations theories using an evolutionary framework. 

    Ehsan sees chess as both a scientific subject as well as an art. He is looking forward to communicating his passion for chess and way of thinking about it with students. 

Online: Scientia Challenge workshops Years 7-8

  • Want to share your love of data and information with the world? Having your facts right is essential. However, if it’s not accessible, important information can get lost in the noise of today’s world. In this interactive online workshop we will take an art and design approach to learn about interesting and beautiful ways to visually represent data and information. How do you transform an ordinary bar graph into a visual that will grab people's attention? How can you combine multiple or complicated data sets into one image that is understandable? How can you turn a tennis rally, a soccer goal build-up or even a dance routine into a graph that tells the story of the movement? Flex your creative muscles and apply your expert knowledge of a topic you're passionate about to create your own portfolio of infographics and data visualisations. No matter what information you have, we will explore and discover interesting and imaginative ways to bring it to life!

    About the presenter 

    Faye is a secondary school Visual Arts teacher having completed her Bachelor of Education (Secondary) / Bachelor of Fine Arts at UNSW. Faye has completed further study in Gifted Education as is a capable presenter with differentiating to support a wide range of students and catering to the needs of gifted students including those gifted students with additional learning needs. Faye is a former member of the GERRIC team here at UNSW.  

     In addition to her experience in gifted education Faye is a practicing artist and has a Diploma of Commercial Arts from CATC Design School. She has experience in designing a range of infographics and data visualisations which she is excited to share with students. 

     

  • Have you always wanted to change the way we live? Do you like to brainstorm inventions? Do you look at situations and think you can do it better? Then you are thinking like an entrepreneur. Through this workshop you will learn what it takes to become an entrepreneur. You will learn about the start-up industry, create your own product or idea, and pitch your concept to a real audience.

     

    About the presenter 

    Kiara is an enthusiastic and dedicated 21st-Century Humanities and Social Science Teacher with experience teaching Gifted and Talented individuals. Kiara is about to complete her Master of Education (Gifted Education) at UNSW. Kiara graduated with Distinction from UNSW Sydney with a Bachelor of Education (Secondary) and Commerce (Business Strategy and Economic Management). She is a qualified and skilled in the subject areas of Business Studies, Economics, Geography, Commerce, and Legal Studies. She has worked as a teacher of gifted students through dedicated 'Opportunity Classes.' 

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.

  • 'Guitar Improvisation' - The art of being lyrical, creative and spontaneous through guitar improvisation with Michael Dolce 'The Voice Guitarist'. Michael's workshop is focused on improvisation/harmony and playing for the song to create the ultimate solo.

    He will be covering:

    • The importance of being true to your natural approach.

    • Pentatonic and Major scale positions

    • Thinking outside the usual box patterns

    • Understanding basic theory and harmony

    • Visual strength on the fretboard 

    • Creating your own visual marker points on the fretboard

    • The importance of the C-A-G-E-D system 

    • Applying harmony and simple chord forms while soloing.

    • Techniques

    • Nuances and dynamics

    • Melodic approach

    • Motifs

    • Feel and Emotion

    • Making the most of what you already know

    • Creating the right guitar tone for your solo.

    • Understanding the importance of cataloguing your ideas within a chord form.

    • Utilising 1 chord vamps to create your library of ideas.

    • Playing over cliche progressions with a sophisticated approach.

    • The difference between writing solos and improvising solo’s and why they are just as important as each other.

    • You will be asked to write your own progression with basic harmony.

    • You will then improvise over their progression and perform in front of the class.

     

    Important information:

    All students need to have intermediate to advanced guitar ability. They will need a basic understanding of chords and should know their Pentatonic scale. To attend this workshop, you will need to bring your own Guitar, amp and any effects pedals you would like to use.

     

    About the presenter 

    Michael Dolce is one of Australia’s premier guitarists whose career spans over 30 years

    He has been the house guitarist on the hit TV show ‘The Voice’ for the past 11 years. He has had the pleasure of working alongside Lionel Richie, Keith Urban, Rita Ora, Guy Sebastian, Seal, Kylie Minogue, Delta Goodrem, Jessie J, Ricky Martin, The Madden Brothers, Will I am, Boy George, Jess Mauboy and Ministry of Sound Orchestrated.

    Michael has conducted over 450 Guitar masterclasses around Australia in the past 8 years, a Q&A session "Behind the Scenes" and over 100 sessions in schools, TAFEs and Universities around Australia. His presentation is accompanied with relative footage from his beginnings right through to backstage/behind the scenes insights of how a prime-time television show with international superstar’s works. He is currently playing guitar on the TV show 'This is your life’ which airs on 11th October 2022.

  • Note: this course is a multi-grade course not just restricted to this year level

    Chess exercises both sides of the brain. The game of chess requires a lot of “if this, then-that” scenarios, requiring players to imagine all the potential moves, alternatives and outcomes of each possibility. One study, conducted by Robert Ferguson, executive director of the American Chess School in Pennsylvania found that kids who had been playing chess versus computer games scored 13 percentage points higher in critical thinking and 35 percentage points higher in creative thinking. Studies have shown that children who play chess regularly significantly improve their visual memory and concentration. 

    A fantastic aspect of chess is that the game rewards you for concentration and penalizes you for losing it. Lose focus and you lose a piece, or worse, the game! Maintain focus and you're likely to win! This aspect of the game of chess gives a child's brain a fun incentive to stay focused while playing!  

    The game of chess is a game of problem-solving, planning, and foresight. Being able to think through changing variables and formulate a plan based on various possibilities are invaluable skills necessary for the game, and more importantly, for life! 

    Studies show that activities that connect children with others (especially their parents) can have a powerfully positive impact on overall brain health. Unlike video games or TV, chess builds human connection through healthy competitive play. Teaching a child to play chess not only builds a healthy brain, but it also reinforces positive relationships and builds lasting memories.

     

    About the presenter 

    Ehsan currently works for Sydney Academy of Chess.  Growing up playing chess, he has always looked at this game as more than just a hobby. Currently Ehsan coaches primary school students in more than 30 public schools across NSW. He hold two master's degrees. One in international relations from Melbourne university and a master of sociology from Fullerton university. Ehsan loves all aspects of social sciences and often uses chess concepts as metaphors for international relations scenarios and vice versa. In addition, Ehsan works on an independent paper which is focused on resolving the epistemological inconsistencies of international relations theories using an evolutionary framework. 

    Ehsan sees chess as both a scientific subject as well as an art. He is looking forward to communicating his passion for chess and way of thinking about it with students. 

  • Cosmology is the study of the origin, nature, evolution and large-scale structure of our Universe, encompassing literally everything from stars and galaxies to space and time itself. While today Cosmology is considered a science, a branch of astrophysics, science itself only 400 years ago was a branch of Philosophy, in turn a branch of Religion. Humankind's wonder and its attempts to rationalise and explain the very nature of reality are as old as our species. This in-person workshop is mostly in a lecture format and will delve into topics like astronomy, astrochemistry, relativity, quantum mechanics. As part of this workshop, you will visit the UNSW Physics Outreach's planetarium SkyLab

     

    About the presenter 

    Carl is a software engineer and currently work for Google Australia. He holds a Master of Engineering Studies and a Master of Education in Gifted Education as well as a Bachelor of Engineering honours in Software Engineering though UNSW. He has a wealth of experience having worked in Sydney, New York and San Francisco as an Engineer. He has been a lecturer at both Sydney University and the Eastern Suburbs Community College in Cosmology. This will be the fourth time his cosmology course will run at UNSW. 

Online: Scientia Challenge workshops Years 9-10

  • In this online workshop, you will learn about the ongoing transport revolution: electric and self-driving (autonomous) vehicles. Electric motors in vehicles reduce pollution and noise, while self-driving capabilities increase passenger safety and comfort. A range of electrical, control, computing and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies are used to achieve these benefits. You will study some of these technologies. 

    We will explore the operation of current petrol/diesel internal combustion engines and their weaknesses. Then, you will explore electromagnetism and how electric motors work, comparing operation, advantages and disadvantages of two types of electric vehicles: battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). You will also learn how self-driving capabilities are implemented using modern control technologies and artificial intelligence. 

    This workshop has fun hands-on learning experiences with different artificial intelligence techniques and delves into important social, ethical and legal issues related to using self-driving vehicles. The workshop will include a small project, in which you will suggest how electric and self-driving vehicles can address a particular transport need in your community.

     

    About the presenter 

    Vladimir is an experience GERRIC Scientia presenter, having joined the team in 2020 and has run most of his courses online. He currently works full-time at a top-ranked NSW selective school for boys, full of gifted and talented students. As a teacher, his former and current students have had many achievements, including winning several first places (and many other awards) in 2021-2022 international and Australian computing competitions: World Artificial Intelligence Competition for Youth (WAICY), the international Bebras Computational Thinking Challenge, Australian STEM Video Game Challenge.

    Vladimir has previously been 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.

  • 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.