As the summer holidays wind down, most students are avoiding thinking about school, but for more than 100 gifted children from across NSW, classes have already begun.
Junior Scientia and Scientia Challenge are programs run bi-annually by the Gifted Education Research, Resource and Information Centre (GERRIC) to challenge the interests of gifted and talented children from years 3 to 10.
The courses, ranging from engineering to gaming technology and criminology, are developed and presented by UNSW academics and graduates of UNSW’s Certificate of Gifted Education (COGE).
Kathryn Fraser, COGE graduate and science coordinator at St Patricks College, Strathfield, presented the three-day ‘Crime Scene to Courtroom’ course for the first time this year.
“This is a course pitched at year seven to eight level for kids who are two years younger than that, yet they all have a deep level of understanding and can grasp complex ideas.”
Kathryn said the children’s level of enthusiasm for learning is infectious.
“I hear them talking in the breaks about the concepts they’ve learnt with the same passion that most children use for their favourite band or sports team. It’s incredibly positive.”
As a member of her school’s Gifted and Talented Committee, Kathryn believes many teachers still don’t have the training to identify and accelerate children.
“Teaching gifted children hasn’t been a priority for professional development in teachers, but I think that’s gradually changing.”
The COGE was introduced to meet the growing demand of teachers wanting training in developing curricula and teaching strategies for talented students.
Many gifted children feel isolated during their schooling. Rosie Cooper is an accelerated student who has just completed her HSC. She’s been coming to GERRIC workshops twice a year since she was eight and has returned in her summer holidays to help out as an assistant.
“I felt like a bit of an outcast at school but the GERRIC workshops gave me an opportunity to interact with like-minded kids,” Rosie said. “Coming back reminds me of what it was like, watching all these kids and their ideas bouncing off each other. It’s a place where they all want to be because they feel comfortable just being themselves.”
Ashley Carrick, who is moving into a selective class in her local high school, travelled from Wagga Wagga to attend the ‘Crime Scene to Courtroom’ workshop.
“I want to be either a teacher or a forensic scientist when I finish school so this has been great,” she said. “We investigated a hypothetical kidnapping and I got to be one of the expert witnesses and compare the suspect’s handwriting. I’m really hoping I can come back again in my next school holidays.”
GERRIC’s student programs will run again in July, click here to enrol.
Media contact: Fran Strachan | 9385 8732 | 0429 416 070