Secondary-school students from all across Australia take part in the Australian Geography Competition. The numbers vary from year to year but currently about 70,000 students from 700 schools enter. Its aim is to help teachers promote geography in their schools.
The Competition is a joint project of RGSQ and the Australian Geography Teachers’ Association, with RGSQ responsible for its day-to-day organisation. RGSQ members perform a vital role helping with the large mail-outs, starting with the promotional material, then the question packs, and lastly the results and certificates. Members also volunteer to scan the answer sheets ready for computer marking.
Prizes of books or book vouchers are awarded to the highest-scoring students at each Year level in each state and the combined territories (ACT, NT, Christmas Island, Cocos Keeling Islands and Norfolk Island). The top student in Australia in each Year level also gets a medal. In addition, school prizes are awarded.
For Year 11 students who excel in the Competition, there are two further exciting opportunities. The highest-scoring male and female students in each state and the combined territories, plus two more, take part in Geography’s Big Week Out. This is a six-day event focussing on fieldwork and spatial technologies. It rotates to a different location every two or three years, and is organised by the relevant state Geography Teachers’ Association with assistance from the Competition Committee and Coordinator. The 16 students who participate always give the most glowing feedback.
I thoroughly enjoyed all the activities over the course of the week, even those that were a little out of my comfort zone. I definitely feel that the trip pushed me to grow as a person. The activities balanced education and enjoyment. I learnt so much, but I also had time to enjoy the sights around me and form relationships with the other students and supervisors. Not only did I find the trip highly informative and educational on geographical issues, but I also found it quite inspiring in other aspects of life. I feel like it really opened my eyes to the interconnectedness of people and the land; into so many tiny details that I would not have even considered beforehand. The trip really solidified my passion for geography. Brendan, GBWO student
Based on an exam at the end of Big Week Out, four students are then selected to represent Australia at the International Geography Olympiad. Mixing with like-minded students from about 50 diverse countries is even more exciting for students than an overseas trip without their parents or winning a medal.
What a week! Numerous friendships, endless learning, unforgettable adventures and of course geography. I could not have asked for a more fantastic experience. Phoebe, iGeo student