Born in Italy in 1452, Leonardo da Vinci had a curious mind and keen intellect – he studied the laws of science and nature, which greatly influenced his work as a painter, sculptor, architect, inventor, military engineer and draftsman. His ideas and body of work influenced countless great minds.
The da Vinci Decathlon facilitated by Knox Grammar School is an academic competition designed to challenge and stimulate the minds of school students in Years 5 to 11, through a challenging competition emphasising higher order thinking skills, problem solving and creativity.
The NSW da Vinci Decathlon was held over three days in late May and was themed ‘power’, which students were required to incorporate into subjects covering everything from money, politics and media, to women, words, and education.
Students in the Decathlon compete in teams of eight across 10 disciplines: Engineering, Mathematics, Code Breaking, Art and Poetry, Science, English, Ideation, Creative Producers, Cartography and General Knowledge. Tasks include answering questions, creating poetry and artwork, generating ideas and solutions, poetry analysis, comprehension, writing, drama performances and much more. Students work to tight timeframes and this coupled with the task of working as a cohesive group make the da Vinci Decathlon a challenging competition.
Trinity da Vinci decathletes put to the test included 72 boys from Years 5 to 11 forming nine teams. The boys in each group worked collaboratively to decide how to allocate tasks and to craft final responses – working on up to five tasks at one time.
Year 6 Preparatory School student, Alex Ko spoke about the challenges. “A challenge for the day was working well together. We all had different answers so it was hard to decide which ones were correct. Another challenge was working out which task each person should complete because some people were good at lots of different areas. It was fun to challenge yourself. I liked the Art and Poetry task. You had to create a poem about the power of nature in a particular setting and then create an artwork that matched the poem. I loved the atmosphere of the hall and seeing so many people working on the same task.”
Year 8 student Joshua Perera clearly enjoyed the experience: “It was a great event, which required teamwork and cohesiveness just as much as academic skill. It was a great opportunity to try new subjects such as Ideation, but also a great challenge to make sure all tasks were completed in the short time frame provided. Though our team didn’t receive any prizes, it was a rewarding, challenging and enjoyable experience.”
Year 11 student Alexander Maloof said representing the school at the da Vinci Decathlon was a memorable experience. “The day presented us with a variety of challenging tasks and I feel proud of the team as we managed to work well together and coped with the days challenging tasks despite facing strict time frames. Working with my Year 11 peers for our final da Vinci Decathlon was a rewarding experience which I will cherish.”
Lisa Gossling, Head of Gifted and Talented and Trinity’s Decathlon organiser believes the benefits of participating in the Decathlon go beyond merely challenging the students academically, “The boys have the opportunity to work at their ‘edge of competence’ with a group of like-minded boys that they may have not necessarily worked with prior to the competition. The skills that the boys employed included thinking flexibly, adapting to a variety of contexts and prioritising tasks in a strict time frame. I was proud to see them overcome adversity when there were issues in a group.”
Trinity managed a sterling performance placing in four subject areas, the Year 5 Junior School team shone placing first in the State for English and third for Code Breaking, while the Year 5 Preparatory School team came first in Art and Poetry. The Year 11 team also did themselves proud by placing second in General Knowledge.
The Trinity Grammar School Gifted and Talented Education Programme is designed to meet the learning needs of intellectually gifted and talented boys. It reflects one of our core educational principles, ‘to develop each boy’s academic ability to the full’.
The academic provision for Gifted and Talented students is not restricted to the classroom. Students have the opportunity to develop in the Creative and Performing Arts, Oratory, Debating, Chess, Adventure, Service, Leadership and Peer Support. Coupled with this is an Elite Sporting Programme that caters for talented boys across a range of individual and team sports.