Many of them are yet to hit double digits, but these pint-sized graduates already have university diplomas.
More than 30 primary school students proudly took to the stage in caps and gowns in the second annual Children’s University Swinburne graduation on 1 December, cheered on by jubilant family members in a special ceremony at Swinburne University of Technology’s Hawthorn campus.
The students, ranging from grades 3 to 6 at primary schools in Frankston, Moorooduc and Mt Eliza in Melbourne’s south-east, have spent months undertaking extra-curricular learning online, through excursions, and in school holiday workshops at Swinburne.
Learning beyond the classroom
Swinburne is the only Victorian university offering Children’s University, and one of only seven in Australia.
Children’s University is an international initiative to engage children in exciting, out-of-school learning opportunities to increase their chances for educational achievement and rewards them for taking responsibility for their own learning.
To graduate, they must complete 30 hours of Children’s University activities.
This year, students studied recycling, robotics, coding, space, and photography, and undertook fundraisers for the RSPCA.
They also participated in school holiday programs at Swinburne and visited ‘Learning Destinations’ like the Botanic Gardens, ACMI, Puffing Billy, the Moorabbin Air Museum, and local libraries.
Swinburne Deputy Vice Chancellor External Engagement, Professor Simon Ridings, congratulated students on the enthusiasm and curiosity they displayed throughout the program.
“Throughout your time at Children’s University, you have shown amazing creative skills, you have thought about how we can solve problems our world is facing using science and technology, and you have shown you can take charge of your own learning,” he said in an address at the graduation ceremony.
“These are all skills that will help you throughout the rest of your time at school, at university – and I know this might feel a long way off – but your future jobs.”
Children's University Swinburne 2022 graduates celebrate with family after the ceremony
A broader understanding of the world around them
Mt Eliza Primary School student Phoebe Gourdolis was a nervous to get on stage at the ceremony, but the idea of being a university graduate before even completing high school was a novelty she couldn’t miss.
She was thrilled to have participated in the program alongside her friends.
“You get to learn lot so many different things and go to cool places, and you get to graduate, I mean, how cool is that?” she said.
Teachers say Children’s University is already having a positive impact on students’ aspirations to undertake tertiary education.
Kingsley Park Primary School teacher Chelsy Norris said it had broadened their understanding of the world around them.
“One of the most exciting opportunities that’s come out of this is some of the school holiday programs, and a lot of different options online for them to go to places that they perhaps didn’t see before,”she said.
“Even learning about things like endangered animals and what they can do about it – it’s a lot of real life learning which is a good thing as well.”
Swinburne Deputy Vice Chancellor External Engagement, Professor Simon Ridings congratulated students on the enthusiasm and curiosity they displayed throughout the program