Gifted and Talented Discovery Program

If you’re fascinated by science and want to go beyond what you cover at school, the Gifted and Talented Discovery Program is for you. As a talented high school science student in Year 9 or 10, you will enjoy additional challenges and stimulation in the areas of biology, chemistry and physics in this three-day workshop.

You will have the opportunity to engage with University teaching staff and current researchers, access first-class facilities and make friends with people who have a mutual interest in science.

To be eligible for participation in the July workshop, you must first sit an entrance exam when you are in Year 8 or 9. The exam aims to test the your ability in the areas of biology, chemistry, physics and general processes. If your result is in the top 10-15% of the cohort you will be invited to participate in the program. The exam is to be organised by your classroom teacher and is sat in November each year.


Register for copies of the Gifted and Talented Discovery Program Qualifying Exam to be sent to your school.

2017 - 2018 Gifted and Talented Discovery Program Dates

Date Event
July 2017 Gifted and Talented Discovery Program Qualifying Exam registration opens
20 October 2017 On-time registration closes. For further information please contact

Gifted and Talented Discovery Program Qualifying Exam dates

Date Event
Early December 2017 Return completed exams to the Faculty
February 2018 Confirm students who completed the exam
March 2018 Receive results, certificates and invitations for high achievers to participate in the Gifted and Talented Discovery Program
End April 2018 Gifted and Talented Discovery Program workshop registration closes
17-19 July 2018 Gifted and Talented Discovery Program

How do I get involved in the program?

To qualify for the program students must sit a 40-minute exam (The Gifted and Talented Discovery Program Qualifying Exam). The multiple-choice exam consists of questions that are designed to test the student's ability to solve scientific problems in the areas of biology, chemistry and physics. For a student to be eligible to attend the workshops they must sit the same exam. Once all exams are returned to the University they are marked and ranked. The top ~150 of students (depending on the number of students who sit the qualifying exam each year) will be invited to attend this competitive program. Schools receive an information pack containing the percentile band result for each student that sat the exam, a list of the student(s) if any who have been invited to attend the program and letters to be sent home to each student that has been invited to attend the program. There is a cost involved in sitting the exam of $6.60 (inc GST) for each completed exam returned to the University.

When does the program run?

July 2018 Workshop
Tuesday 17 July 8.20 am - 3.30 pm
Wednesday 18 July 8.50 am - 3.30 pm
Thursday 19 July 8.50 am - 4.30 pm

What have the students got up to at the workshops in the past?


Biology is full of fun with a number of interesting laboratory sessions. Examples of past programs include:

Animals - their bodies and behaviour - How exactly does an animal do something basic, like move around or find food? How does an animal use its own body to perform the necessary actions for survival? These questions were answered in a workshop that gets up close to the inner workings of animal bodies then explores the fascinating world of animal behaviour. The workshop featured specimens for dissections as well as live animals so students could study animal biology from the inside out.

Biology and DNA - Biology is a big subject and biologists do many different things – from following a pack of African dogs in a helicopter to manipulating an organism’s DNA. In this workshop, students took a whirlwind tour of biology by doing a wide range of experiments and activities – like making a fish’s pee pink, discovering the colour in fly eyes – in this wonderful and enormous field.

Put your body to the test - students spent a day with the School of Biological Sciences exploring the capabilities and limits of the human body. They saw how good their taste buds were at detecting flavours, found out what part of their body was best at feeling the heat and learnt how to take their own blood pressure. The day with Biology guaranteed to get them up close and personal with their own body.

Celebrating Darwin - we celebrated the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin with an exploration of evolution. Students took part in a quiz on the life of England’s most famous naturalist and got up-close to Australia’s #1 enemy and learnt how scientific research is helping to fight the cane toad invasion. Finally, students took a good look at the human eye and decided if it is intelligent, or incompetent.


Our chemistry workshops go off with a bang. Previous participants have been able to get their hands dirty with:

  • Slime
  • Resorcinol polymers
  • Luminol
  • Making bouncing balls
  • Fireworks in a test tube
  • Soap
  • Liquid nitrogen
  • Photoluminescent pigment
  • Chemical detective challenges (with prizes!)
  • ...and many more surprising experiments


Physics covers many areas and our workshops are themed. Below are some examples of past programs:

Tsunamis and wavelengths - What do Tsunamis have in common with guitars? Can you measure wavelength with chocolate? Can sopranos really break a wineglass with sound? Find out all the ins and outs, ups and downs of wave motion, complete with a lecture from Professor Tim Bedding on Asteroseismology - the physics of starquakes.

Radioactivity and starquakes - Explore the physics of radioactivity and particle physics, and take a sneak peek into how this links to cancer treatment.

Telescopes and astronomy - Discover how telescopes really work, explore the lifecycle of a star, and understand through hands-on experiments the many challenges astronauts face when travelling in outer space. Also, there was the chance to chat to professional astronomers from the School of Physics.

Rockets and space travel - In the July Physics workshop we continued our investigations in honour of the International Year of Astronomy. Students from the Space Society helped us out with rocket launches, both solid fuel and liquid nitrogen powered, and astrophysics students will help us to reconstruct a multi-spectrum colour image of a supernova.

What costs are involved?

  • Registration - $220.00 inc GST

Please note these prices are subject to change.

If students do not live in the Sydney area there will be additional travel and accommodation costs involved that will need to be met by the student.

How do I pay for the workshop(s)?


Students can pay either by cheque or Money Order (made payable to The University of Sydney) or via MasterCard or Visa.

Students should ask their parent or guardian to complete the payment section during registration.

Payment should be sent to:

Science Alliance
School Programs
Science Marketing & Communication Unit
Carslaw Building (F07)
The University of Sydney NSW 2006

A receipt will be forwarded to you after payment has been processed. For online credit card payment you will receive an electronic receipt confirming the payment.

Are refunds available?

As places are extremely limited, no refunds will be granted. Please check all dates carefully. Some extenuating circumstances may be considered and should be outlined in a letter addressed to:

Science Alliance
School Programs
Science Marketing & Communication Unit
Carslaw Building (F07)
The University of Sydney NSW 2006

Travel scholarships

There are 10 travel scholarships awarded for the workshop. Travel scholarships are awarded based on the following criteria:

  1. Distance from your home to the University of Sydney, and
  2. Your exam results.

You will need to calculate the distance in kilometres (one way) from your house to the University of Sydney’s main campus in Camperdown. If there are a number of students from the same location who apply for the travel scholarship, the student who achieved the highest exam result will be awarded the travel scholarship. Students will be advised in writing if they have been awarded a scholarship. Please note that it is unlikely that students within the Sydney metropolitan area will receive a travel scholarship.


The University of Sydney is unable to offer assistance or make recommendations regarding accommodation. Students should organise accommodation as soon as possible as many places are fully booked over the school holiday periods. There are residential colleges on campus that may offer accommodation, however please be aware that many of these colleges remain fully booked even during school holiday periods, as current university students are permitted to retain their rooms during this time.

Accommodation Telephone
St John's College (02) 9394 5200
Sancta Sophia College (02) 9577 2100
Saint Andrew's College (02) 9565 7300
St Michael's College (02) 9550 3992
St Paul's College (02) 9550 7444
Wesley College (02) 9351 3708
Women's College (02) 9351 4548
Sydney Uni Village (02) 9036 4000

* We recommend that a parent or guardian accompany rural students during their stay in Sydney.