Thriving Minds

Australasia Junior Conferences

Australia and New Zealand Junior Thriving Minds Programme

July and August 2022

Big Ideas for Bright Minds aged 11 – 14

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What to Expect on the Day

This study day offers a unique provision for academically gifted students.

  • The aim of this study day is to help gifted students to:
  • Improve their thinking skills
  • Begin to be able to identify what is fundamental from what is trivial
  • Become intellectually creative
  • Identify assumptions and distinguish between good and poor arguments
  • Think systematically and rigorously about relevant modern day issues

Join us on Snapchat – aconferences – for your daily philosophical thought of the day, plus access to free resources.

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Course Content

Session 1: An Introduction to Quantum Mechanics

All matter has a quantum level. Starting with the atom this session will take students down into the quantum world. Wave/particle duality and the double slit experiment will be explained as well as non-locality, superposition and quantum entanglement. Probability rules and the thought experiment of Shrödinger’s cat will also be explored so that students grasp the basic findings of life at the quantum level.

Session 2: Guided Community of Inquiry. Celery Munchers vs Steak Stokers. Is Diet a free choice?

Are you a herbivore or an omnivore, or maybe a carnivore (?!) and it is a free choice? While Descartes did not argue, ‘I think, therefore I am vegetarian,’ others do, so, what are the arguments for vegetarianism and is it a free choice? Eastern traditions, such as Buddhism and Hinduism, have a long history of vegetarianism, with up to 85% of the people in India practicing vegetarianism. Modern day ‘Vegetarian Philosophy’ tends to argue that there are ‘consumption ethics’ now that there are readily available alternatives to meat. But what do you think? Members of the team are encouraged to make quality contributions, but also to help others to contribute. There will be a member of staff facilitating the discussion before a shared plenary. Issues arising will include reflection on what defines personal identity, and the implications for human cloning. Students will be numbered at the start of the day and their number will be their group number for this session. When the students return from break they will be asked to sit in their numbered groups, not with their own school, in order to mix the age groups and schools. The group will elect a spokesperson to feed back their conclusions and ideas. 1030 – 10.45 introduction to the task. 10.45 – 11.15 groups on task. 11.15 to 11.45 group feedback. 11.45 – 12.00 final questions. All attendant staff will be appointed to a group and will need to help and encourage the discussion without leading it.

Session 3: Justice Truth and Beauty

Punishment is widely accepted and practiced to achieve ‘justice’. Children, adults, institutions and even whole countries can be punished in the name of ‘justice’. But what is justice and does it exist? This session will explore the difficulties of achieving agreement about justice and ask what is the point of punishment, and what is it supposed to achieve? Contemporary examples will be used to illuminate the complexity of the philosophical issues and how we think about other areas of human knowledge, such as beauty mathematics and art.

The BIG Debate

This house believes that Freewill is an illusion

Are we the product of our genetics, our upbringing and the things that have happened to us along the way, or can we steer our own path? Students will experience a live debate and be encouraged to contribute and to vote. This is a vibrant session and gives an opportunity for the development of a quite different set of analytical and evaluative skills. The debate will conclude with a vote.


Contributors to the Australasian 2022 Programme

Julie Arliss

Julie Arliss

A Farmington Scholar at Harris Manchester College, Oxford, Julie Arliss is a highly accomplished teacher and author. Julie Arliss is a well-known international educator of gifted students with a gift for making the complex simple, and the simple complex. She is committed to the provision of world-class extension activities for these students, to extend their reach well beyond the curriculum to new areas of knowledge. She is on the examining team for Cambridge International Examinations and founder of Academy Learning.

Tour Venues


22nd July 2022
Scotch College


27th July 2022
Ascham School


2nd August 2022
Bundaberg Christian College


4th August 2022
Genesis Christian College

Sunshine Coast

Please contact the office.


9th August 2022
St Andrew’s College


Please contact the office.


16th August 2022
Scots College


TBC (18th 19th August)


24th August 2022 Iona Presentation College

Conference Fees

A fixed fee of $50 if paid prior to conference.

We have access to sponsorship for students wishing to attend but for whom the cost is a significant challenge for their families. Please contact us for further details.

A fixed fee of $50.

One free staff place with every 12 students booked.

Unaccompanied teachers attending for CPD to pay $95.


These events fill quickly but we appreciate that many schools need time to collect money from students. Please contact the office with your numbers as early as possible to secure your places.

[email protected]

Places may also be booked and paid online. Full terms and conditions are detailed on the website.

Staff are warmly invited to join the team for informal discussion over break and lunch with refreshments provided. Students will need to bring their own equipment and refreshments. Please note that we do not allow recordings of the day.

Student & Staff Bookings

Please enter a number greater than or equal to 5.
Please enter a number greater than or equal to 1.
For bookings for smaller numbers please address requests to [email protected]

Continuing Professional Development Bookings