Read our SciX FAQs below to help answers any queries you may have on the Science School Extension program at UNSW Science.
SciX@UNSW is designed with the requirements of the Science Extension curriculum in mind, but is suitable for all Year 12 science students and advanced incoming-Year 11 students.
Students should expect about 10 hrs of pre-work (depending on the project) that can be completed anytime from November to mid-January. This is primarily gaining familiarity with the project context (often through readings and YouTube videos), and potentially some basic programming (depends on the project and low-pressure).
After the summer school, non-Science Extension students will not have any further work that would impact their studies. Students may choose to come to the two post-summer-school virtual one-hr catchups if they had questions or just wanted to say hi to their mentors and cohort, but there wouldn't be any preparation required.
The allocation of full and partial fee-waiver positions for the SciX programme are assessed using the following criteria that are based on the University Admissions Centre Educational Access Scheme Categories of disadvantage.
- Financial difficulties or hardship, including but not limited to: family or individual has received a Centrelink means-tested benefit, support allowance during COVID, student is required to work to support family or self
- Student identifies as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
- Student enrolled in a UNSW Gateway School, or a school that has a index of community socio-educational advantage (ICSEA) less than 1000 (as assessed on the MySchool website)
- Student lives in a non-metropolitian, regional or rural location
- Other difficult health, family, social or economic circumstances that could be verified by the school teacher or a qualified professional (e.g. psychologist, GP, social worker)
Each application will be assessed individually; please note that meeting any one of the criteria does not guarantee a fee waiver placement will be provided. Preference will be given to students who are taking the Science Extension course.
If you would like to discuss these eligibility criteria, your individual circumstances or would prefer us to verify your suitability through direct contact with their teacher or school, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How do I apply?
Tickets will be made available via EventBrite with applications opening Monday 11th October. Students will be allocated to projects on a first-come, first-serve basis, with second preferences and waiting lists implemented.
- The standard SciX@UNSW program fee is $415+ GST per student that is used to pay the PhD mentors who oversee student projects. The fee is to be paid via Eventbrite as part of the application process, with refunds available for two weeks.
- Fee-waived positions are available based on financial need and for regional, rural and Indigenous students with full conditions specified in the FAQ. Students can apply for these positions through EventBrite.
- Large school groups (10+ students) can be invoiced separately with a discounted price of $400 + GST per student. Registration and project selections are made through EventBrite.
All students are required to have the permission of a parent/guardian prior to completing an application. Science Extension students should ensure they consult with their school/teachers about their participation in the program.
Entry to the SciX program is on a first-come, first-dressed basis; merit is not a criteria for selection. The application form does not require any teacher or school statements, resumes or academic transcripts. We do caution that some projects have prerequisites that should be met to ensure success.
SciX@UNSW supports Science Extension students to complete their research projects by providing them with access to UNSW Science’s world-leading researchers and research tools in an accessible online environment. Students are placed in small groups focused on a particular research area and tool. Each group’s UNSW Science mentor, a current PhD student and practicing researcher, will introduce students to university and research-level scientific knowledge and research tools, supporting students in developing their individual hypothesis and carrying out their independent research project.
The centrepiece of the SciX experience is a one-week intensive summer school.
The most important part of this intensive experience is the regular workshop research group lab sessions, delivered where students will learn new science and new techniques in data creation, collection and analysis to discover answers to unanswered questions about our universe.
These research group sessions will be complemented by a variety of skill development sessions and research enrichment experiences, such as lab tours, scientific research talks, interviews and panels.
Self-paced pre-work and recorded sessions will be available prior to the summer school that will give students some essential knowledge and skills in preparation for their projects. In particular, many projects will require students to become proficient in reading and performing minor modifications to pre-written Python Jupyter notebooks.
SciX@UNSW was developed in response to the new Science Extension Syllabus which encourages passionate Year 12 students to extend their understanding of modern scientific enquiry through the development of a scientific research project. UNSW Science has designed SciX@UNSW in collaboration with NSW science high school teachers to ensure that it is meaningful and thought-provoking to students.
The fee for a student to participate is $415 + GST. This covers the cost of PhD mentors who oversee student projects, lab materials and attendance at the one-week SciX Intensive Summer School.
Fee-waivers are available based on financial need.
Before the summer school, you will engage with:
- Project-specific pre-work introducing the key scientific concepts and important relevant scientific papers
- For some projects, programming training in Python, R or the project-specific software
- For some projects, pre-installation of specialised software
While we are hopeful for a return to a fully on-campus delivery of the SciX2022 program in January, in the interests of community health and safety we will be following the latest COVID-19 advice from NSW Health. If attending on-campus activities, attendees will be required to adhere to all relevant COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
Contingency plans will be in place including a fully-online delivery which follows on from the success of SciX2021, hybrid delivery and reduced on-campus attendance for lab-based experiments only. A decision on the delivery mode will be made in late November, accommodating student shifts from on-campus to online-delivered projects where feasible.
The safety of students, staff and the community is paramount. In the event of unforeseen COVID-19 developments and changes to restrictions in December/January, SciX2022 may move to online delivery at short notice. In this situation, a small number of projects may choose to deliver research lab sessions throughout Term 1 at mutually convenient times to allow additional preparation time.
Our COVID back-up plans incorporate partial or full online delivery. SciX was successfully delivered fully online in January 2021 with high student satisfaction.
Our SciX2021 timetable was designed to maximise learning, create community and share the excitement of science and research within the constraints of an online space.
We used a variety of communication and teaching modes, including time each day for students to chat in very small groups with their mentors. There are sessions focusing on both project-specific research techniques and general research skills, all designed using best practices in teaching and delivered by subject content experts in an interactive format taking advantage of new engagement technology.
9:00 – 9:30: Start your research day by engaging with the SciX community via our online engagement platform, answering the Daily Question, posting submissions to our SciX meme competition and sharing awesome science.
9:30 – 10:00: Cohort-wide quick training session on a key research skill, delivered by experienced researchers
10:00 – 10:45: Research group interactive lecture by your SciX mentor, teaching you key knowledge or skills for your project
10:45 – 11:30: Individual work on assigned task
11:30 – 12:00: Chat check-in and engagement with your research group
12:00 – 1:00: Lunch, with optional mini cohort-wide activities and engagement opportunities.
1:00 – 2:00: Cohort-wide science enrichment activities include our popular Science Extension Exam tips session.
2:00 – 3:00: Research group workshop with your SciX mentor and research group colleagues.
3:00 – 4:30: Individual research time along with rotating mini-meetings where small groups of students meet with their mentors for about thirty minutes to support each student’s independent research project.
The central technology used for SciX is Microsoft Teams, which will enable strong communication within the whole cohort, within each research group and between student and their method. Sharing memes, asking questions, discussion of preliminary results and sharing interesting papers will all be encouraged here.
Pre-summer-school content and resources will be delivered via Microsoft Teams. Pre and post-summer-school Q&A sessions will be delivered via Teams video conferencing.
You can also expect that many groups will be using an open source specialised scientific software of some kind, the Anaconda Python3 distribution or R.
Students will be asked to select their top two preferred research project in their SciX@UNSW Application Form, and allocated to groups on a first-come, first-served basis.
For SciX2022, group sizes will typically be 6-18 students with a ratio of approximately 1 PhD mentor for every 6 students. These numbers have been chosen to create a strong and vibrant student cohort in each group, with sufficient one-on-one support time to allow every student to flourish in their projects (based on our previous experience, and student feedback from our 2020 on-campus course).
Students from the 2020 and 2021 program reported their participation in the summer school increased their skills in:
- Computational skills - programming/ coding, Excel, general computer skills
- Data collection, analysis and presentation
- Finding and reading scientific papers
- Technical skills - laboratory techniques, mathematical modelling and statistics
- Transferable skills - research, organisation, planning, thinking scientifically
- Collaboration skills and teamwork
2020 and 2021 students both overwhelmingly reported their research lab time with their mentors as the most valuable part of the summer school experience, discussing the value of the mentor knowledge, research activities, learning and their peer group.
Some projects will use largely pre-written Python or R notebooks for data analysis and visualisation that you can use for your own data, modify and expand as desired. Based on previous cohorts, these notebooks are extremely accessible to all students, and allow more sophisticated research results than would otherwise be possible.
We will teach you the necessary skills during the pre-summer-school period through self-directed learning and question & answer opportunities. Confidence in basic programming is actually one of the important employability skills you can learn during SciX - regardless of whether you chose a project needing programming or not!
Many projects are suitable for students with only a Year 10 background knowledge; if there are no prerequisites listed on the particular project page, you can assume that you will be able to learn the necessary knowledge as part of pre-work.
If there are prerequisites listed but you are very keen on the project and have significant knowledge of the subject from outside school, you should email us with your current knowledge and desired project, and we will be able to provide you with specialised advice.