Damon White won’t be short of material when he delivers the student speech at today’s Children’s University Tasmania graduation in Launceston.
The Year 6 student from Exeter joined the Children’s University program in August last year, but since then he has amassed an impressive 503 hours of learning outside the classroom.
“Children’s University has helped me with setting goals,” Damon said.
“I graduated last year with 32 hours, but this year I have made quite a jump.”
That is something on an understatement, and the volume and variety of activities in his Passport to Learning are just as impressive. They include visits to QVMAG, the Tasmanian Maritime Museum, MONA and the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens.
“Pop is taking me to the Platypus House at Beauty Point on Sunday,” Damon said.
And then there are the challenges he has taken on, such as STEM activities in the lunch break at school, and at home - dry ice experiments, cooking and building a birdhouse.
Damon has also participated in sports such as hockey and athletics. “I gave archery a go,” he said. “I quite liked it and will be going back soon.”
Exeter Primary’s Children’s University school coordinator Thomas Clark said he enjoyed hearing about Damon’s grand adventures each week.
While Damon’s mother Ally believes his involvement in the program has made a big impact on him.
“I have seen a big change in his confidence,” she said. “He tended to be a bit hesitant about taking on something really unfamiliar, but not now.”
Damon is looking forward to being among the 105 Children’s University graduates – including 35 from Exeter Primary - who will lead today’s University of Tasmania Town and Gown procession through the Launceston CBD, ahead of their own ceremony at the Hotel Grand Chancellor.
“I feel really proud and excited that I will get to walk with all the important people,” he said.
Children’s University Tasmania is offered by the Peter Underwood Centre at the University of Tasmania and has close to 900 active members in 42 schools around the State.
Underwood Centre deputy director Dr Becky Shelley said it was great to hear stories like Damon’s.
“How wonderful that Children’s University has connected Damon to so many superb learning experiences,” Dr Shelley said.
“But whether our graduates today have engaged in 30 hours or more than 500 hours of activities, Children’s University is fostering a love of learning, connecting young people to the community and encouraging them to explore opportunities and find their passion in life.”