Shaping bright young minds

The Junior Scientia Program is designed for gifted and talented primary school students in years 3-6. To participate in the program, students will select one 3-day workshop from a range of options.  

All workshops are developed and presented by experienced teachers who are qualified or experienced in gifted education. They possess the expertise and skills to encourage the interests and pique the curiosity of gifted children.  

To provide an appropriate level of rigour and challenge for gifted students, the level of difficulty of the workshops is set two years above the enrolled school level of the child. The workshop structure is also designed to further develop social skills and provide an opportunity for gifted students to meet like-minded peers with similar interests. 


2021 Programs

We were excited to welcome students back to UNSW in January 2021. These programs were especially anticipated after what was an unusual school year for so many. Though things looked a little different (and more physically distanced!) this time, we have been overwhelmed with positive feedback. Thank you to everyone who was involved and supported the programs.

We are currently planning the July 2021 Student Programs. We look forward to sharing details (including dates and available workshops) with everyone soon. To stay up to date with all the latest Student Programs information you can join our mailing list here.

Junior Scientia workshops Year 3-4

Workshops that ran in January 2021. Not confirmed for July 2021. 

The Games People Play with Tim Huang

Toys and games reflect the culture of our times and they have always incorporated the evolution of new technologies. In this challenging workshop students take their first steps in designing their own toys and games. We work together to build a conceptual framework for toys and game development from first principles, including the origins of toys and games and the psychology of why people play games. Toys and game designers draw on popular culture and diverse knowledge and skills. Psychology, literature, computers, art, architecture, mathematics, physics, ergonomics, safety and marketing are some of the learning curves you will be starting. 

About the presenter:

Tim has 20 years’ teaching experience in Special and Gifted Education, including as a Curriculum Coordinator, Subject Coordinator, Primary and High School Teacher. He has been working with GERRIC since 2003.

What to bring:

Pencils, eraser, sharpener.


Magical Muggle Studies with Nathalia Velez

Consider this your personal invitation to attend a magical wizarding school! The focus of this immersive workshop will be to explore the SCIENCE behind the Harry Potter phenomenon.  You will also use your artistic abilities in scientific illustrations, and your creative writing skills. 

In our Zoology lecture series, you will be learning all about the fantastic creatures that bridge the muggle world and the magical realm. Apprentices will attend a series of crazy chemistry labs (with a strong emphasis on edible science), where you will learn how to make polyjuice potions, bubbling cauldrons, and master the art of molecular gastronomy. You will also delve into highly specialised branches of science such as herbology, forensic science, and the physics of matter (did you know that chameleon slime changes colour too?).

What to bring:

Please bring these labelled items in a labelled pencil case: a pencil for writing, eraser, sharpener, textas, a black marker, a WHITE pencil.The presenter has also asked that if anyone has a Stylus pen (a pen for writing on tablets) to bring one in. There will be spares for those who do not have one.



EcoWarriors: Exploration in Ecology and Conservation with Laurie Strommer

How are we going to save endangered species?

In this fast-paced and hands-on workshop, we’ll work with the tools scientists use to conserve biodiversity. You will investigate foraging and migration, explore predator ecology, discover the complexities of endangered species management, unravel DNA and family trees, meet characters who have made a difference, and create an action plan to address a conservation conundrum. We’ll romp through science, values, choices and challenges in biodiversity conservation.

About the presenter:

Laurie always wanted to save the whales when she grew up. That dream evolved into a series of jobs in conservation and education. She protected wild things and places as a Park Ranger in the USA – including at Glacier Bay, where there are humpbacks and orcas. She was a birding guide and a skiing natural history interpreter. Then she fell in love with Hawaii, where her PhD research was about conservation of threatened and endangered Hawaiian forest birds. In Australia, she has organized science fairs and mentored young scientists, taught science workshops, and worked as an environmental educator. She is passionate about Conservation Biology, and excited to lead students towards understanding some of the tools and conundrums of the subject.

What to bring:

Pencil, sharpener and eraser. Optional: notebook.



About the workshop:

'In this challenge, students will investigate gravity, motion, and forces to design and build a shock-absorbing system that will protect two "astronauts" when they land. Just as engineers had to develop solutions for landing different vehicle types on the moon and Mars, students will follow the engineering design process to design and build a shock-absorbing system out of paper, straws, and mini-marshmallows/ or boiled eggs; attach their shock absorber to a cardboard platform; and improve their design based on testing results.

Landing on the moon is tricky. Since a spacecraft can go as fast as 18,000 miles per hour (29,000 km per hour) on its way to the moon, it needs to slow down in order to land gently. And if there are astronauts on board, the lander needs to keep them safe, too. Similarly, spacecraft on their way to Mars may be traveling as fast as 13,000 miles per hour (21,000 km per hour) when they reach the red planet and need to slow down to land safely on the surface. Future missions to Mars will also need to safely land astronauts on the surface.

What to bring:

A labelled pencil case with: pencils, eraser, sharpener and scissors. A notepad is optional.

What you should know/do before attending your workshop:

Students will be working with hard-boiled eggs on the final day of the workshop to test their spacecrafts!



Junior Scientia workshops Year 5-6

Workshops that ran in January 2021.  Not confirmed for July 2021. 

Public Speaking and Debating Skills with Patrick Fisher

Have you ever wanted to learn how to win an argument? Have you ever wanted to learn to speak with confidence in front of room of unfamiliar people? 
In this workshop, you will learn to develop your public speaking skills in a range of varied, exciting and challenging individual and small group activities. You will develop the ability to deliver speeches to a range of different audiences in a number of contexts. 
In addition, you will learn how to use debating skills to project an opinion in a measured and informed manner, allowing you to improve your speaking and critical thinking skills. These activities will foster you future success in all school activities. 

About the presenter:

Patrick is an experienced English teacher at Georges River College. In particular, he has an interest in the varied ways extracurricular activities shape the educational outcomes of High Potential and Gifted Students. Patrick is Georges River College's Gifted and Talented Education and Debating Coordinator, where he coached teams and individuals to state representation. 

Furthermore, Patrick recently completed a Master of Education (Educational Leadership) at the University of Wollongong, focusing on the varied ways teacher practices shape student learning outcomes. 

What to bring:

Pens, pencils, eraser, sharpener.



The Science of Earth's Changing Climate with Aaron Macleod 

Today everyone is talking about Earth's changing climate and the impact of global warming. But what does that mean? How do we even know that the Earth’s climate is changing? Join us on this expedition as you investigate scientific principles (through hands-on experiments we will begin to discover the integral role the ocean plays in the Earth’s Climate) behind Earth’s Climate and the integral role that the ocean plays.

Over the three days, through a range of real-world hands-on experiments, you will explore: the Scientific Process; physical and chemical properties of water; mapping and features of the ocean floor; global winds and deep ocean currents; the Carbon Cycle; the Coriolis Effect; how Earth’s climate has been recorded; natural causes of climate change; and human impact on climate change.

Most importantly you will work with a group of like-minded students to understand the scientific principles behind Earth’s climate and learn that as global citizens and scientists you can have a real impact on your local and global environment and be positive catalysts for change.

‘The Science of Earth’s Changing Climate’ is based on the hands-on science curriculum 'Climate: Seas of Change’ produced by JASON Learning in partnership with the National Geographic Society.

About the presenter: 

Aaron works with Schools and Educational Systems to develop and implement engaging, real-world STEM learning experiences in the classroom. He believes that for students to make lasting connections it is imperative that they engage in, and explore, relevant rich learning opportunities. By developing the skills of critical and creative thinking, problem solving and design ideas and solutions, students form links with what is being taught in the classroom with the real world. For the past 15 years Aaron has worked with thousands of gifted & talented students and teachers both in Australia and around the world conducting practical hands-on learning workshops around student centred learning, real world applications of skills and developing ways participants can explore and express themselves and their ideas using technology. One of his primary roles is to coordinate the Australian region of JASON Learning, a not for profit, hands-on STEM curricula in partnership with National Geographic whose mission is to "inspire and educate students everywhere through real science and exploration.

Workshop preparation:

Workshop preparations: The Science of Earth's Changing Climate




This document includes what to bring and what you should know and do before the workshop, including pre-reading.

Odd Maths and Even Weirder Stuff with Daniel Judd

Mathematics can be normal. "1 plus 1" is "2", usually (sometimes you get "10" or "window"), and an equilateral triangle always has three 60° angles (unless it’s drawn on a sphere, in which case it will have three 90° angles). Most mathematical questions are completely settled, right? this course, you're going to learn that mathematics is completely weird.

Among other things, we're going to explore number sequences that probably shouldn't work (but they do work, we think). You're going to learn about mathematical problems so astoundingly evil that they have million dollar bounties on offer to any brave soul who can just figure them out. You're going to fold shapes that disappear inside themselves and then reappear later. You're going to work with patterns that are so beautiful that they leave you lost for words and...yeah...umm...

This workshop requires well-developed mathematical skills, but not much more than you learn at school (i.e., multiplication, division, addition and subtraction).

About the presenter: 

Daniel's education background includes a BA in Education and Linguistics (with G&T units), BTeach, COGE (Certificate of Gifted Education). 

He has more than a decade's experience in gifted education consultancy for various primary and secondary schools, including (a) professional development of staff; (b) evaluation of existing programs and provisions for gifted students; (c) establishment of programs and provisions; and (d) intervention for gifted students with specific needs.

Interests in respect to teaching and gifted education are: “Middle School”, Primary-to-High School transition, Science Teaching, Mathematics Teaching, Computing, Social Media use by schools, staff and students and LBOTE/Gifted students, among others.

What to bring:

Pens/pencils for writing, coloured pencils and textas, eraser, sharpener, ruler, glue and scissors.



Organisational units