Year 8 students experience a day at University

27 September 2012

Close to 400 students from Compass partner high schools visited the University for the annual Year 8 Experience Day. The students selected morning and afternoon electives from a variety of activities run by University Schools and Faculties. The aim of the day is to help students make connections between their interests, higher education, and future careers.

Many of the faculties and schools who ran events in 2011 were back in 2012, including:

  • Sydney University Law Society, who created law and order in the Law School's moot court
  • Sydney Conservatorium of Music, who harmonised their way to happiness in MacLaurin Hall
  • Veterinary Science, whose collection of animal skulls left the teenagers enthralled.

In attendance for the first time were new partner schools Moorebank HS, Liverpool Girls HS and Liverpool Boys HS which meant more students than ever before and expanded activities, including:

"Astronomers Toolkit: Parallax" (School of Physics, Faculty of Science)

Researchers from the School of Physics introduced students to one of the fundamental experiments and techniques in astronomy: parallax. Co-facilitator Tom Gordon also runs the popular Kickstart (Physics) program as part of the Science Alliance, so it's not surprising that discovering parallax was nominated by students as one of the most popular and valuable lessons of the day.

"Spying on History" (Department of History, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences)

Students were presented with a box of documents from a censorship case: notes from undercover police, court records, other cryptic bits of evidence. What could they learn from all of this about how people lived and thought in the past?

This session was hosted by Associate Professor Chris Hilliard in the Senate Boardroom of the Quadrangle, but students quickly learned that in a university the sometimes austere surroundings don't dictate the tone, as they got stuck into the scandalous details of the century's most celebrated censorship cases. The workshop gave students a taste of what humanities study in higher education is like, and while some preferred the more hands-on activities of science, others enthusiastically found their voices and proved themselves ready to tackle the big ideas of history!

With 400 students to coordinate into 30 sessions not all students got their first choice of activity, but in some cases that turned out to be a positive - "I think I love science now!" - and in others, the experience of trying out something new brought their true interests into sharper focus. By talking to student ambassadors, faculty, and staff, they also started to realize how much choice and flexibility features in pathways to higher education: "You don't have to know what you want to do... People change their minds a lot with what they want to be."

The challenge for secondary students is how to look ahead into the future to figure out how to match their nascent talents and interests with not only a possible career path but the school subjects and higher education courses that will get them there. For the students who attended the Experience Day, that murky vision may have become slightly clearer.

See the photographs and video from the day on our website.

The Compass team gratefully acknowledges the participation of these Faculties and businesses:

  • Faculty of Agriculture and the Environment
  • Faculty of Veterinary Science
  • Faculty of Health Sciences
  • Faculty of Law
  • Faculty of Engineering
  • Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Faculty of Science
  • Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning
  • Sydney Nursing School
  • Sydney College of the Arts
  • University of Sydney Business School
  • Conservatorium of Music
  • The Co-Op Bookshop
  • Sydney University Museums
  • Sydney Uni Sport & Fitness
  • Campus Security
  • University Venues