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Junior Gifted Day

On 15 August, Siena College hosted the second Junior Gifted and Talented Day for 2018. Over 70 students from Avila, PLC and Scotch College joined an enthusiastic group of Siena girls to participate in the Junior Stretch and Challenge Day. The conference was an intensive one day program of short lectures for Year 8 and 9 students, presented by Julie Arliss, Farmington Fellow at Oxford University and founder of Academy Conferences. The program seeks to identify and challenge the students' preconceived ideas and encourage them to think creatively about their world. It aims to provide students with an opportunity to interact with other like minded students as they explore a range of interesting and thought provoking ideas about relevant modern day issues.

In the first session of the day, Julie presented a lecture entitled 'Justice, Truth, Beauty and Mathematics'. The session explored the difficulty of achieving agreement about 'what is justice?' and 'what is the point of punishment?' She used contemporary examples to demonstrate the complexity of the related philosophical issues and the impact on other areas of human knowledge, such as beauty, mathematics and art.

The second session was an interactive discussion based on a community of enquiry approach. The students formed small, mixed groups and were given a set of tasks designed to stimulate discussion based on the question, 'Do animals feel pain and is it OK to kill them?'  Each team worked to reach consensus on a set of ideas, then elected a spokesperson to present their ideas at the end of the session.

After lunch, Julie presented a lecture entitled 'Science: What comes First, Observation or Inspiration?' which examined the underlying ideas that frame science. The students were inspired to think how they, as the next generation of inventors, will use science to solve current and future challenges. 

he final session was a debate based on the contention “That it is never right to kill a person”. The debate gave students an awareness of the inconsistencies of our laws, which prohibit killing, yet condone killing in war. The debate also addressed the many issues surrounding capital punishment. This session gave the students an opportunity to apply quite a different set of analytical and evaluative skills, as they debated the topic. The session concluded with an invitation for students to contribute their opinions on the topic and ended with a vote on the issue.

Student Reflections

“The day was exciting and rife with new information. We learnt and considered a broad range of topics outside the spectrum of our everyday life and asked some big questions that will keep me thinking long after the day is over.”
Juliet Guthrie

“Today’s presentation inspired me to think deeply into topics about morals, ethics, and truth and consider all perspectives of a topic. This way of thinking is a new technique I could apply to all subjects in school, not only science and religion.”
Claudia Wilhelm

“I learnt about the criminal justice system and how scientists came up with the Big Bang Theory.”
Georgia Wells

“The discussions helped me to think wider than just what we learn at school and taught me a lot about working with new people and talking about topics that don’t have an expected or certain answer.”
Aisha Bowker

“I liked the guest speaker as she orchestrated her information down to our level of understanding.”
Charlotte Rieniets


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