Diverse Learning

Diverse Learning

Philosophy Day – Thursday 22 April

Seventeen girls from Years 10-12 were involved in a virtual conference day presented by Academy Conferences for Gifted and Talented students. This would normally be held at Ascham School but due to COVID-19 it was made available online. It was an intensive, mind-stretching conference day where students had the opportunity to develop their critical thinking skills, manipulate abstract ideas and make connections across school subject areas. Students listened to lectures and were involved in discussion on the following areas:  

  1. Oxbridge Interview Question: Here’s a Cactus. Tell us About it – Julie Arliss
  2. A Slow Strange Death – The Failure of Environmental Economics – Peter Baron (Alumni of University of Oxford)
  3. Aristotle 384-322 BCE His Big Idea – Julie Arliss
  4. Social Physics – Julie Arliss

I was very encouraged by their thoughtful responses and passionate arguments in relation to some major issues. The following girls attended, and a couple of their reflections are included below.

Year 10: Becca Zammit, Sophia Zybenko, Indianna Cane, Grace Sukari, Olivia Daly, Maya Yogesvaran, Samiksha Rajesh, Molly Hanly

Year 11: Chiara Prinsloo, Ryleigh Bladen, Maya Rengaswamy, Michelle Hoffman

Year 12: Charlotte Forwood, Jacqueline Dwyer, Annika Shankar, Anna Garnsey, Olivia Holmes


The Cactus lecture helped me see how many ways one question could be answered. In the Environmental economics lecture I was initially really intrigued by the idea of utilitarianism being a harmful ethical framework in our economy, however I had never thought about it in an economical setting and I now have a different viewpoint on that ethical framework as I can understand its flaws. The Social Physics lecture showed how our perspectives and viewpoints can so easily be swayed by the information we are presented with which made me think about the use of social media to spread news and ideas. Overall, the day was really interesting and extremely beneficial, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Sophia Zybenko Year 10

The Oxbridge interview question has helped me feel more confident when taking part in interviews, and the environmental economics seminar has given me a clearer understanding of climate change and its possible solutions. I felt the overall day was beneficial as I am participating in an oratory competition called Ethics Olympiad, and this content helps enhance what I have learned through that.  

Indianna Cane Year 10

The girls were also provided with some amazing resources so they can continue their exploration of these topics. Thank you to Marco Scali, Philippa Dowers and Adam Saleh for their support on the day.

Da Vinci Decathlon – Tuesday 4 May

Each year, schools from all over NSW gather to participate in the Da Vinci Decathlon at Knox Grammar School. Due to COVID restrictions, a national virtual competition was organised for 2021 and we entered teams from Years 7 and 8. The da Vinci Decathlon is an academic competition designed to challenge and stimulate the minds of school students. Students compete in teams of eight (in their year groups) across ten disciplines: Engineering, Mathematics, Code Breaking, Art and Poetry, Science, English, Ideation, Creative Producers, Cartography and Legacy.

Tuesday was a very busy day for all involved and, being a virtual competition, it had its challenges but together we managed to get everything done. Congratulations to all the girls for their engagement, hard work and collaboration. There are approximately 5,500 students across Australia participating in the Da Vinci Decathlon this year and results will be announced in a live stream next Thursday 13th May.

The following girls participated and a few of their reflections are below:

Year 7 Team: Charlotte Bull, Theresa Dong, Sithmi Kannangara, Zoe Kha, Stephanie Knox, Charlotte Mah Chut, Isabel Marks, Isabelle Hartshorn

Year 8 Team: Isabella Hillier, Madeleine Grindon-Ekins, Valentina Kuruc, Hilary Zhang, Abigail Fairbairn, Ava Garnys, Mahek Chandak, Aimee Harrison


‘Da Vinci was very challenging, but I enjoyed working with the other people on my team to find the solutions. It was helpful to be able to use all our strengths’.

Isabelle Hartshorn Year 7

‘I enjoyed working with my brilliant team members. Some of the tasks were very challenging but we all tried our very best and it was good to see all the girls helping each other. I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to be part of this year’s Da Vinci Decathlon’.

Charlotte Bull Year 7

‘The Da Vinci Decathlon was fun, challenging and really just a great experience; everybody helped everybody through the whole day, so no one was ever alone. Everybody used their own strengths to master challenges. I’m really proud of all of us’.

Isabel Marks Year 7

‘It was actually lots of fun and I got to hang out with the other lovely girls who participated in this. Overall, the experience was great’.

Theresa Dong Year 7

‘Da Vinci was such a challenging, fun and brain bending experience. My favourite part was the rush and adrenaline, although stressful at times it made it more fun! It was harder being online, but our team managed to overcome that challenge and complete Da Vinci to the best of our abilities!’

Charlotte Mah Chut Year 7

‘The Da Vinci Decathlon Competition was a mind-blowing experience. Even though some of the questions were difficult I had a great time solving challenging problems with my teammates.’

Hilary Zhang Year 8

‘Da Vinci was fun, but very stressful. I loved how I got to spend the day with some amazing people and get to know them. We struggled, solved, and sometimes failed together. Even under the intense time pressure, we still did really well, and I’m proud of us’.

Abigail Fairbairn Year 8.

‘The Da Vinci decathlon was actually a lot of fun. I met and hung out with the other girls and made a few new friends. The best part was when we cracked the toughest code in the last few seconds! Overall, I loved it!

Mahek Chandak Year 8

‘I found the experience very enjoyable as it challenged me in ways I haven’t been before. I really enjoyed how rounded the challenges were allowing all of us to work to our strengths but also to try new things all with the support of our peers. Overall, very stimulating’.

Isabella Hillier Year 8


Well done girls and a special thank you to Roberto Jorquera from ICT and Paula Middlebrook from Diverse Learning who assisted me on the day.


Mrs Robyn Roffey

Diverse Learning