Six Illawarra Catholic schools take on da Vinci Decathlon

News | Six Illawarra Catholic schools take on da Vinci Decathlon

Posted 21 May 2018 by Catholic Education in News

Six Illawarra Catholic schools have taken on 13 other schools from the region in the 2018 da Vinci Decathlon competition for Years 5 and 6 students, with encouraging results.

Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) was one of the world’s great thinkers and scholars. A painter, architect, inventor, and student of all things scientific, da Vinci embraced learning with a lifelong passion. His combination of imagination and intellect left a great legacy - one that has inspired this competition.

Run in the spirit of an Olympic Decathlon, the academic competition challenges school students across ten exciting disciplines: Engineering, Mathematics & Chess, Code Breaking, Art & Poetry, Science, English, Ideation, Creative Producers, Cartography and General Knowledge.

In teams of eight, students from St Brigid's, Gwynneville, St Therese, West Wollongong, St Pius X, Unanderra, St Columbkille's, Corrimal, Good Samaritan, Fairy Meadow, and St John's, Dapto made up some of the 34 teams and 272 students from the Shoalhaven, Illawarra, Shellharbour, Wollondilly, Sutherland and Penrith regions who participated on the day.

“It was so lovely to see the students working as a team, and being really engaged on the day. They had big smiles on their faces all day - despite the difficulty of many of the tasks,” co-organiser, Beth Shaw, said.

St Pius X, Unanderra

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In its fourth year in the Illawarra region, the competition once again showcased the academic gifts of our young students, particularly those from St Pius X, Unanderra. The school achieved outstanding results, with its team winning both the Science and Code Breaking tasks, and coming 3rd in Art & Poetry. From these results and the team’s efforts across all the subjects, St Pius X were placed 5th of all the Year 6 teams - especially remarkable, considering the team was made up of a mix of Year 5 and Year 6 students.

“The whole day was a great experience,” Year 5 St Pius X student, Angus, said, “I learned how fructose can affect memory - this was something new to me and really interesting.”

“Throughout the day I learnt many interesting things," Year 6's Gemma, said, "It was challenging, but everything I answered will help me in the future with thinking outside the box.”

St Pius X teacher, Shay Kelly, said Angus and Gemma, plus teammates Thomas, Albert, Matthew, Samuel, Isaac and Olivia made a strong group with their combination of hard work, dedication, love of learning, team skills and academic abilities.

Preparation was also key: “We practiced teamwork, problem-solving skills and discussed what areas each student was strong in. The students practiced some past papers and were given the opportunity to take them home to discuss with their parents, which enabled families to feel part of the process, too,” she said.

“It’s something our students strive to be a part of each year, and parents also appreciate the uniqueness of this event and are very proud of their child for being selected.

We have been participating in this event since it started four years ago. We will definitely be going again next year!

St Brigid's, Gwynneville

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St Brigid’s, Gwynneville took sixteen students to the Decathlon, entering teams in both the Year 5 and Year 6 divisions. Their Year 6 team came 3rd in English, and continued to place well in each of the rounds, achieving a fantastic overall result of 7th out of the 19 teams in their division.

“We enjoyed exploring all ten subjects. We also got to enjoy the grass area outside with bush tracks and an awesome slide,” Year 5 participant, Celeste said.

“It was a fun day,” her classmate, Henry, concurred,“We learned that if you want to succeed, you need to practise and know how to work together.”

St Therese, West Wollongong

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After participating in the competition for the first time last year, St Therese, West Wollongong were back again for more, this time taking two teams - one Year 5 and one Year 6.

The Year 5 team were awarded 3rd place in Engineering. Team members Chelsea, Addison, Charlotte, Charlotte, Kaitlyn, Dotti, Thomas and Lucas said they loved the day: “We had lots of fun. It was a great opportunity for us to be challenged, to test our creativity and make some new friends from other schools.”

Their Year 6 counterparts, Lily, Noah, Sienna, Luca, Samantha, Harry, Nicholas and Akira liked the balance of the day, too:  “It tested us mentally, but also focused on teamwork and having fun at the same time. We won one of the fun Mona Lisa activities. We greatly appreciate being given the opportunity to participate in such a challenging and enjoyable event,” they said.

St Columbkille's, Corrimal

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St Columbkille’s, Corrimal also entered a Year 5 team and Year 6 team. Both had success, with Year 6 coming 2nd in the Engineering challenge and Year 5, 3rd in Ideation.

“We learnt to work as a team and help each other through the day, so we could complete the activities,” Year 6 student, Saskia, said - effective teamwork, a critical key to success recognised by many participants on the day.

St Columbkille’s teacher, Pauline Leonard acknowledged the competition as a valuable experience for the children involved: “It’s an opportunity for students to be involved in challenging experiences that involve communication skills and using their creative thinking, general knowledge and expertise,” she said.


Good Samaritan, Fairy Meadow also earned commendable results, with their Year 6 team awarded 3rd in the Engineering activity and 2nd in General Knowledge.


Congratulations to all schools and students that participated in the 2018 da Vinci Decathlon. 

“The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding” - Leonardo da Vinci

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