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Leonardo da Vinci was a painter, engineer, architect, inventor, and student of all things scientific. His natural genius crossed so many disciplines that he epitomized the term “Renaissance man.” Today he remains best known for two of his paintings, “Mona Lisa” and “The Last Supper.” Largely self-educated, he filled dozens of secret notebooks with inventions, observations and theories about pursuits from aeronautics to human anatomy. His combination of intellect and imagination allowed him to create, at least on paper, such inventions as the bicycle, the helicopter and an airplane based on the physiology and flying ability of a bat. Da Vinci said “Learning is the only thing the mind never exhausts, never fears and never regrets.” This couldn’t be more true.

The Da Vinci Decathlon competition, inspired by Leonardo, places a particular emphasis on higher-order thinking skills, problem solving and creativity. In term 1 I began the challenging task of trying to select a team of just eight boys to enter the competition. With over 30 enthusiastic and talented boys from Years 5 and 6 vying for a position on the team, it become a very difficult process. The selected boys gave up a significant amount of their Easter holiday time, afternoons, lunchtimes and weekends to prepare for the various disciplines of the Decathlon.

In Week 5 of this term we headed to St Peter’s Girls School for the State Finals. Working in teams of eight, students were faced with ten challenges throughout the day, covering the disciplines of Art and Poetry, Cartography, Code Breaking, Creative Producers, Engineering, English, Ideation, Legacy, Mathematics and Science. The day was broken into three sessions so several of the challenges have to run concurrently. Teamwork was the key, as was the ability to think laterally and creatively.

In a field of 24 schools across the 10 categories we finished with a:

  • First place in Engineering, Cartography, and Legacy
  • Second place in Maths
  • Equal fourth in Code Breaking

Overall we finished a fantastic third in the State.

Congratulations must go to the boys for their motivation, their level of task commitment and perseverance. Considering we had never entered this competition before, what they achieved is amazing. Well done to Beau, Cesi, Hughie, Jack, Ryan, Shirhan, Tyler and Xander!

Michelle Cordon
Year 6 Teacher, Da Vinci Decathlon Coordinator