Children discover learning outside of the classroom

Monday, 12 July 2021

From 16 to 24 June, students from across the Hunter, Central Coast and Manning Valley regions got a taste of University study as part of the Children’s University’s CU On Campus Discovery Days.

A child playing with other children at a school desk

Now in its sixth year, 929 students aged between 7 and 14 years and their families participated in series of hands-on University-lead workshops alongside activities facilitated by community partner including the Newcastle and Manning Regional Art Galleries, RSPCA, Greater Bank financial lab and Bunnings. Last year these events were held virtually so it’s exciting to be able to have held face to face sessions at our NUspace, Callaghan, Ourimbah and Taree (UONRHD) locations. The days aim to foster a sense of connection to the University and encourage learning outside of the classroom.

“Students from 35 schools participated across the six events. With 54 workshops being delivered by the University and partners," Children’s University Manager Selina Darney said.

"The idea for the university is to start conversations early about future selves; about what could be the possibilities for the future and to link what they are going to do in hands on activities with actual pathways that they can connect in with moving forward."

The students were engaged and enjoyed participating in activities throughout the day. One student who attended the Taree day said, “I really want to work here because I like making people smile and you guys make me smile”. Another student who attended the Ourimbah day shared their sentiment, “This is my third favourite day ever after Christmas and my birthday”. ​​​​​​

“Discovery Day was fantastic. Our students loved it all - thank you to everyone involved for giving their time and expertise for our students to experience University! We really appreciate your efforts in making the day run so smoothly and packing so much in. All experiences were unique and loved by our students in different ways - they were buzzing all the way home to Singo!”.

Selina emphasised that an important part of the days is the engagement with not just participants but their families as well.

“We really like for families to be connected into it. Often school spaces can be isolating for some families, so we really encourage families to come along. There are quite a few family members here on the day… we like the idea of family learning with children as opposed to a child doing a learning experience in isolation."

Children’s University parent from Speers Point Public School explained Discovery Days make the community feel welcome to the University.

“I love that the program opens the doors to allow students and family to see what going to university was like. I didn’t know that you could enter a university unless you were a student. I will bring my older children on the weekend."​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

University collaboration across schools and divisions was critical in the success of these days. The Children’s University team would like to thank the following staff for their participation

College of Human and Social Futures

  • Felicity Cocuzzoli – Art
  • Dr Matt Lumb – Evaluation
  • Dr Rhyall Gordon – Evaluation
  • Louis Ndagijimana – Environmental In/Justice
  • Dr Alex Taylor – Marketing
  • Kevin Craft and ambassadors – Finance
  • Adam Manning and team – Conservatorium of Music
  • Dr Marcus Rodrigs – Accounting​​​​​​​

College of Engineering, Science and Environment​​​​​​​

  • Dr Kim Maund, Cameron Beard, Dr Helen Giggins, Dr Jessica Siva and team – Construction Management
  • Dr Michelle Kelly, Kylie Parker and Professor Frini Karayanidis – Psychology
  • Dr Hannah Schunker – Mathematical and Physical Sciences
  • Conjoint Associate Professor Ron Boyd and Honorary Associate Professor Robin Offler – Earth Sciences
  • Dr Megan Huggett – Marine Science

College of Medicine, Health and Wellbeing

  • Dr Karen Mate – Biomedical Science
  • Dr Jessica Wood – Midwifery
  • Melissa Shields and Leah Cramp – Nuclear Medicine
  • Dr Sean Lanting – Podiatry
  • Rob Eid – Physiotherapy​​​​​​​

Academic Division

  • Linda Cox – Maker Space
  • Kristy Faulkner – Indigenous Games
  • Natalia Soeters – Sociology
  • Dr Joyleen Christensen – Digital Cultures
  • Dominic Dates, Sally McGrath, Jackie Watson and Jessie Hope-Hodgetts – Indigenous Games​​​​​​​

Resources Division

  • Rebecca Fleming and team – Security

Related news

The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.