Last Wednesday morning, bright and early, eight excited students eagerly climbed aboard a bus headed for their first Da Vinci Decathlon. The Da Vinci Decathlon is an internationally recognised academic competition that is run in the spirit of an Olympic decathlon- with teams of eight competing against other teams of eight in ten academic areas over the course of one day. After months of intense training, sacrificing lunchtimes, and giving their all, it had come to this day: the regional round of the Da Vinci Decathlon, held at Sunshine Coast Grammar School. What an exciting day ahead!
The bus pulled up and as the team entered the hall, they saw many teams from schools all over the Sunshine Coast and even as far as Toowoomba. As the teams found their tables, they could feel the buzz of excitement in the air. Finally, it was time. Three…two…one… and the gong declared- the first session had begun.
In the first session of the day, students focused on three challenging academic areas- Ideation, Science and English. In Ideation, students are faced with a societal issue that they are tasked with solving. They must use the Ethical Decision Making Framework to first empathise with the problem, define the issue and create a vision statement; which then leads to developing solutions to the issue and finally creating a prototype of their solution. Sounds challenging? It sure is! Science and English are equally challenging, comprising of incredibly complex problems.
Whilst this session is running and the students are all engaged in exceptionally sophisticated problem-solving, the teams are called up for their Creative Producers challenge. This requires teams to nominate their actors to leave the tasks they are working on, and go to the designated area where they are given the performance task. They are given just eight minutes to create a one-minute performance based on the task given to them.
After an hour and a half of intense work, it was time for morning tea and then it was once again time to count down- three…two…one… GONG! During the second session of the day, the students were challenged in the areas of Engineering, Art and Poetry, Mathematics, and Cartography (mapping). In Maths and Cartography, the students must apply their knowledge in new and innovative ways to interpret extremely challenging problems. In Engineering, the students have very limited supplies to build a working model of an engineering design that must adhere to specific criteria. In Art and Poetry, students are challenged with developing a poem interwoven with art and incorporating 3D elements- whew!
After an hour and a half, it was time for lunch, then it was time for the final countdown- 3, 2, 1…gong! In the third session, the students were challenged with their final two tasks of the day- Codebreaking and Legacy. Codebreaking is an extreme test of students’ thinking and adaptability skills. Legacy is all about general knowledge as well as knowledge about Da Vinci and the Renaissance period. After an hour, the competition was over. The students had worked to the very best of their ability, now it was down to the judging.
Waiting with bated breath, the students huddled together as the results were read out:
Science, in 2nd place… Glasshouse Christian College!
Creative Producers, in 1st place… Glasshouse Christian College!
English, in 2nd place… Glasshouse Christian College!
Ideation, in 2nd place… Glasshouse Christian College!
Engineering, in 1st place… Glasshouse Christian College!
Art and Poetry, in 1st place… Glasshouse Christian College!
Cartography, in 3rd place… Glasshouse Christian College!
Legacy, in 1st place… Glasshouse Christian College!
Codebreaking, in 2nd place… Glasshouse Christian College!
A hush fell over the crowd in anticipation of the announcement of the overall winner. All the hours of training and the entire day of fierce competition, had come to this moment…
“The Year 6 overall champions, who will be moving on to the State competition, is….Glasshouse Christian College!”
The hall erupted in cheers as the students leapt out of their seats to collect their medals and trophy. We had won!
More importantly than the incredible results, the students were stretched in so many ways. They learnt and applied critical thinking skills, tested their creativity, and grew so much within themselves and within their team. To get through such a day, they had to put the needs of the team before their own. Our students did that and they have made us all so proud. Leonardo Da Vinci said, “Learning never exhausts the mind”; though the students were physically exhausted at the end of the day, this wonderful opportunity sparked passion, ignited ideas, and set their minds aflame with possibility.
Jasmine Bautista, Honours Program Teacher