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2017 WCGTC Biennial World Conference

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3.4.7 Educational alchemy: How project-based learning and an ancient mystery transformed gifted children into a team

Designed on a shoestring budget in a small US school for K-6 gifted students, the Antikythera project offered a “perfect storm” of gifted student passions: LEGOs, computers, math, astronomy, engineering, ancient history, and mystery. The reproduction of an ancient Greek analogue computer using LEGO involved every student in the school, and created a sense of community, quantum leaps in teamwork and collaboration, and other social-emotional synergies that no one expected. Project-based learning, recognised as a best practice in gifted education, yielded results far more profound and lasting than the remarkable end product.


Allyson O'Rourke-Barrett
The Grayson School
United States

Allyson O’Rourke-Barrett is Director of Project-Based Learning at The Grayson School, Pennsylvania’s only independent school designed specifically for gifted learners. Her role allows her to merge her love for interdisciplinary instruction with student-centered lessons.  In Grayson’s inaugural year, Ms. O’Rourke-Barrett spearheaded the “Grayson in Space” initiative, which included collaboration with the International Space Station and a whole-school “Mission to Mars” simulation.  Additionally, she served as the faculty advisor for the SuperKNOWvas, Grayson’s Destination Imagination team, whom she led to first place at the state championship.   This year, she can be found trying to solve mysteries or building robots and orreries.

Jill Williford Wurman
The Grayson School
United States

Jill Williford Wurman is Director of Research at The Grayson School, Pennsylvania’s only independent school designed specifically for gifted learners. At Grayson, she acts as the in-house resource for the most current understanding on gifted education topics relevant to the school community, including academic performance, pedagogy, social-emotional development, longitudinal outcomes, and best practices in gifted education. She has spoken to the American Psychological Association’s national convention regarding summer residential programs for the gifted, and has co-presented on giftedness at MIT and at SENG’s national conference.


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