Environmental sustainability and empathy were common threads in the tapestry of projects produced by St Mary’s Catholic Primary School Erskineville students who are part of the Newman Selective Gifted Education Program.
The showcase of projects by gifted students in Kindergarten to Year 6 included a performance section where dance, choir, monologue, solo drum and other musical performances impressed the parent and peer audience.
Projects were just as varied in the academic field. Students designed solar pizza ovens, built and programmed robots, queried habitats and the solar system, and made their own paint colours out of different pigments.
I like that you get to challenge yourself and learn your limits.
The school’s gifted education co-ordinator Kaitlin Ringwood said the quality of students’ interest-based projects reflected their empathy, intelligence and knowledge. This year, the displays included stellar sports achievement along with academic and creative pursuits.
“There’s really no limit,” Ms Ringwood said. “We encourage them to innovate and take risks.
“Best practice for gifted and talented students is also great practice for classroom learning and learning outside the classroom. The fact that it is interest based, that children are valued and allowed to be themselves and challenges at their own level means they achieve their personal best.”
Year 5 student Thomas Jackson-Whitlock investigated how to be more sustainable with plastics. While on a family holiday this year, he documented the volume of plastic waste generated on his flight and sourced biodegradable, compostable bags made of cornstarch in Italy.
He said overpackaging could also lead to food waste as it forced people to buy more than they consume.
“We do a lot of composting and recycling and don’t use much plastic at home,” he said. “It’s quite fun trying to be a sustainable as possible and knowing that we are not hurting the environment.”
We encourage them to innovate and take risks.
Year 6 student Mia Campbell performed a monologue before explaining the features of a sustainable house designed with classmate Thomas Keogh. It included rain water tanks, veggie gardens and an intelligent refrigerator that suggested recipes to minimize food waste.
“We’ve explored quite a lot of Maths because we’ve had to use a lot of measurements to make our home,” she said. “It had to be functional but not compromise on aesthetics.”
Year 6 student Sarah Nguyen exercised empathy and her English skills when she wrote stories about the same instances in daily life – school test results, a broken arm and financial struggle – from different points of view.
“When writing in class, we’re usually set a task and given an hour to complete it. This was a project and was very, very open. I like that you get to challenge yourself and learn your limits.”