Category Archives: Middle School

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One Conqueror to Rule Them All!

In a superb display of skill and calmness under pressure, our champion chess player, Tony Zhong, took on eight other boys or groups of boys in a lunchtime chess simul, winning five of those games before the bell signalled the end of lunchtime.  This involved Tony moving from one table to the next playing eight games simultaneously.  The boys could think about their moves while he played at the other tables, but they had to make their own move in front of him.

There were so many boys wanting to sign up to beat the champion that none of the teachers managed to find a free table!  No-one could come close to beating Tony however, and the only person to slow him down was Marcus, our new School Captain and current Dux of Year 11.

One of our classrooms in the Senior Library is the chess room where chess coaching happens after school, and where our 9-12 Chess Club is held two lunchtimes each week, but there are always boys in there playing before and after school, at morning tea and at lunchtimes.  We also have a number of chess boards set up on various tables throughout the Library and the Learning Commons, and this constant opportunity to play chess helps the boys to focus and to hone their logical and strategical thinking processes, thus improving their academic results.  It is also the reason that BGS has been the champion GPS Chess school for 12 out of the past 14 years, and the champion State finalist team, representing Queensland at the National Schools Teams Chess Championships, for 5 out of the past 7 years.

With Tony in Year 9 as our top player, and with a lot of excellent younger players coming up through the ranks, the future looks bright for Chess at Grammar!!


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It’s Horror Time!

Students in the Middle School and Centenary Libraries have been exploring the horror genre this term. They have been reading horror stories, listening to horror stories, writing horror haiku, engaging with horror-based activities and much more.

A highlight was the STEM session which was collaboratively planned with teachers from the Science Department. Boys played with bat slime, made dancing ghosts, and had fun making creepy horror noises with dry ice.

As boys always love to create (and eat) food, we also decided to make marshmallow monster pops with chocolate and decorations.

A number of competitions were run across various year levels: a short story, a haiku and a film trailer. This certainly brought out the creative side of our students.

Showing a horror film was mandatory and we chose Coraline. Although many boys had seen it before, they still sat spellbound through lunchtimes as Coraline faced the dangers in her new house.

One student even brought in his giant snails to share in his library, feeling they were appropriately “horrible” to suit the theme!

Our final activity was a demonstration of applying zombie make-up to one of our teachers, Mrs Gardner. Arana Wright, a recent graduate of a special effects course, came in and showed how to make a simple, but extremely effective, zombie look. This was entertaining for participants and the audience alike, with Mrs Gardner being most reluctant to remove the make-up once it was done! Arana also ran a workshop with a small group of boys to show them how to use latex to create fake wounds which look very real and scary.


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Middle School Book Fair

This week, the Middle School Library hosted its annual Book Fair. Boys were eager to come along and see what was on offer. Many books and other fun items were purchased. Thanks to the many students, staff and parents who have made purchases, and to Vicki Palmer, who is the driving force behind all Middle School library events. We appreciate the support of Dymocks Brisbane who had to restock popular items daily and also supplied specially requested books. The Grammar libraries will soon have more new books and we thank the Middle School community for your generosity in supporting this initiative.

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go.” — Dr. Seuss


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Legendary 12 Author Visit

Our students were offered the amazing opportunity to attend a session with local author Son Bac Ngo. Son has published three books so far in his Legendary 12 series. The first book, in a picture book format, explains how the animals of the Chinese zodiac came to be. The remaining books are graphic novels, each one focusing on an individual animal. Mus Mouse and Ole Ox are already available and keenly read by our boys. The next instalment is due soon.

Son spoke about reading his first comic book on arrival in Australia as a young Vietnamese refugee and how he loved the great adventures of Superman, but also used the graphic format to help him learn English. This experience led to a life long love of comics and  became the inspiration for creating his own series.

Son is a parent of two boys currently enrolled here at Brisbane Grammar School. For Jag and Eagle, the visit was a unique opportunity to see their father in his professional role as an author. The audience was thoroughly entertained and enthralled by Son’s own personal story as well as his journey as a writer. We truly appreciate the time and effort from Son and his wife, Thuy, in supporting reading  for our boys and providing a chance to meet a real-life author.


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Magnificent Manga

Pikachu, Genga and Wobbuffet have been special guests in our Middle School Libraries in Term 3 with the exciting world of manga becoming our special focus.

Each week in the term we have offered different activities run by our Library staff during lunchtimes. These certainly generated extra interest in the theme. Primarily focussed on boys in Years 5-8, we did offer two opportunities for the entire student body to be involved.

We began with a pop-up bookstore. All students (years 5-12) were invited to come and peruse a selection of books which were provided by Zombster, a manga and anime specialist store here in Brisbane. Boys were able to nominate the titles that looked interesting to them and we purchased a number of these. This was a great way of involving student voice in the selection of titles for our collection and the books were processed as quickly as possible to maintain the momentum the store generated.

Over the course of the term, boys have competed for Pokemon prizes via Kahoots, learnt how to draw manga, created dragons, watched anime movies and even created Pokemon cookies. Papercraft Pikachus have also been created and carried home proudly. Our Years 7 and 8 Library ran a Grumpy Cat in Manga competition which allowed boys to create a new scenario for the mascot digitally or on paper. We also ran a Pokemon hunt with augmented reality which was a huge hit.

We were not just limited to manga and we broadened the focus to encourage boys to read graphic novels as well.

We are fortunate to have a parent who is currently writing a series of graphic novels based on the Chinese zodiac. Called the Legendary 12, the initial picture book explains the origin of the animals and each subsequent graphic novel tells the story of one of these animals and their adventures as they seek to recover missing diamonds. Son Bac Ngo visited this week to speak to an audience of boys from Years 5-12, all of whom are interested either in manga as a genre or in the art form or simply in the stories themselves.

This focus on manga has certainly increased the interest in this genre in our Middle School libraries. Boys who were already keen readers have appreciated the new titles on offer and those who had not read any previously have enjoyed the new experience.

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Science Week – tweaking their curiosity!

Open Day this year marked the first day of National Science Week and was an excellent way to kick off our annual partnership with the Science Department and tweak the curiosity of both young and older visitors. A Forensic Science display in the Senior Library allowed visitors the opportunity to see and use technology and scientific techniques used by the police force to help solve crimes.  We were also very indebted to the University of Queensland ….. Department, for the generous loan of their ……. kit. Visitors were able to explore examples of plaster castings and various species of fly larvae used to help estimate time of death and decomposition rates.  Black light showed up fingerprints, and microscopic investigation of blood, pollen and fibre samples were available for budding young investigators. The hit of the day, however, was a photo booth where visitors could have fun dressing up in detective costumes.

Science Week continued in full swing with Science teachers and teacher librarians working together. To lighten the mood during the week and show the humorous side of science, the Middle School libraries screened episodes of Richard Hammond’s The Science of Stupid, a show that gives detailed explanations of the science behind  breathtaking stupidity caught on camera.

Physics teacher, Scott Jones, also gave an abbreviated version of his TEDx talk –  Where are all the Aliens? – addressing the ongoing question of life in our Galaxy. With 100,000 light years in size and over 100 billion stars, why have we not seen other civilisations out there in the Milky Way Galaxy? Scott examined some of the best ideas concerning the topic and finished with a brief discussion about the need for humanity to take full control of our world and its environment to ensure the future for our children and enable us to one day explore the galaxy.

Middle School Science teachers took over both libraries with practical demonstrations of the physics of air pressure and friction, encouraging students to construct air-powered cars from cardboard and balloons, and then test these experimental models against one another on the racetrack.

As the week came to an end, students from Years 5-8 competed for prizes in exciting year-level-specific Kahoot quizzes, designed and created by Science staff to challenge the students’ scientific knowledge about topics ranging from Chemistry to Astronomy to Biology.

We love partnering with all departments, but Science Week holds a special place on our calendar each year.

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Year 5s are Savvy Scientists

On Tuesday evening the Year 5 rooms were filled with great names from the past and present. Alexander Fleming, Charles Darwin, Edmund Halley, David Attenborough and even Archimedes were just some of the scientists who came to life courtesy of our youngest boys.

The evening was the culmination of a great deal of work by students and Science teachers Dean Littlefair and Peter Hunter in collaboration with teacher librarian Vicki Palmer. While the Science teachers were able to focus on the science, having a teacher librarian on hand meant that boys were able to learn about accessing information. Skills such as defining a task, using print and digital resources, and correctly citing sources were all taught explicitly. A selection of specialised resources were also made available in the library and on the library website.

At the conclusion of the research phase, boys were required to turn their notes into an autobiography, setting the scene for the evening’s events.

It was a fantastic night with parents clearly impressed with the depth of knowledge shown by the boys. While nerves may have been present at the start, once boys settled in and began to share their life stories, they thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

David Attenborough (aka Max): “It was really good because everyone dressed up well and was on show. We were all proud to share what we had learned.”

Charles Darwin (aka Will):  “All the adults were asking great questions. It went really quickly and I was able to tell parents of all my great adventures.”


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Manga Pop-up Store

Yesterday boys from across the school were invited to visit the manga-themed pop-up store which was held in the Middle School Library at lunchtime.

Books were provided by Zombster, the manga book specialist store in Oxley, and covered all age ranges and a variety of suitable story lines. Alistair from the store was on hand to answer any questions and offer advice about the titles.

Boys were able to vote on the titles they wished to see added to our collection. Library staff are now working hard to process the books as quickly as possible!

This event has kicked off the start of our manga focus for Term 3 across all three libraries. Upcoming events include craft and food-making sessions, screenings of videos, an author visit and manga drawing tips and techniques.

Already boys are showing a much greater interest in this genre and its popularity will continue to grow as the term unfolds.


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Readers Cup 2017

In the final weeks of Term 2, two teams of BGS students competed in the Readers Cup Competition, organised by the Children’s Book Council of Australia, in the Brisbane Central Years 5 & 6 and Brisbane North Years 7 & 8 divisions.  Students from schools throughout the district competed in teams of four or five to answer questions on five different set books. This year these books included Mister Cassowary by Samantha Wheeler, My Life and other stuff I made up by Tristian Bancks, Sister Heart by Sally Morgan and The Bone Sparrow by Zara Fraillon.  Each year BGS hosts the Brisbane North Yrs 7 & 8 competition in our Lilley Centre Forum with 23 different schools throughout the district in attendance in 2017.  This event is a great celebration of books and reading and a great way of bringing schools together.

Both BGS teams received placings in the top 12 in their respective competitions, a fantastic result reflecting all their hard work. Students spent much of Term 2 reading their books, making up practice questions and attending lunchtime meetings, and must be commended on their excellent behaviour when representing BGS during the events.  Big congratulations also must be given to Norman Park State School and Brisbane State High School for winning their respective competitions.  We now look forward to next year, to discovering exciting new books, making new friends and working as a team in the Readers Cup Competition for 2018.


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May the Fourth be With You!!

May the Fourth is the day when lovers of Star Wars around the world join together to celebrate this modern mythology, initiated from the original movies of the 70s and 80s and perpetuated through the decades since.  The timeless themes of heroes rising to stand against the forces of darkness, and the power of friendship and love to shape the world or redeem the fallen are common across all cultures and generations, providing common ground for fans worldwide, and reminding us that we are all connected.

Brisbane Grammar School embraced the fun last week, with trivia competitions across the school from grades 5 to 12 testing the boys’ general knowledge of these great movies.  To balance this intellectual endeavour, we added the thrill of droid races, where the remote control figures of Yoda, R2D2 and Darth Vader were pitted against one another time and again. By far the most popular race of the week was between Mr Conway (Head of Year 7), Ms Zervos (Head of Middle School) and Mr Hallis (Year 7 teacher).