THE Education Department has invited seven tertiary institutions to submit proposals for a second research project on gifted children. The seven institutions are the University of Hongkong (HKU), Chinese University of Hongkong, Hongkong Polytechnic, City Polytechnic, Baptist College, Lingnan College and Shue Yan College. ''We are prepared to use about $2 million donated by the Royal Hongkong Jockey Club for this research,'' said Mrs Ruth Lau, Principal Inspector of the Education Department's Psychological Services Unit. The deadline for submission of proposals is next month, and the research will start in October, to be completed in 18 months. Through this second research, information and data on distribution pattern, features and education needs of the academically gifted children can be gathered. The researchers will use some existing tools the Education Department has, such as checklists for parents and teachers in order to identify the children. They will then assess their educational needs and characteristics, so the department can have a comprehensive picture of the distribution of gifted children in the territory. Once the distribution is identified, the department would like them to develop a parental checklist as well. Mrs Lau told Young Post the researchers should let the department know whether the tools were valid for testing gifted children by the end of the project. ''During the research period, the institutions involved are expected to give us periodic reports as well,'' she said. The Education Department can then use all such information for its ''Pilot School-Based Programme'' in the 1994-95 academic year. The first research on gifted children is still in progress. This project, which started last October and expected to finish by next March, is a joint venture between HKU and the Hongkong polytechnic. Researchers, such as lecturers and readers from the two institutions, have prepared a teachers' observation checklist for gifted children and they are doing fieldwork on the performance of children aged between six and 15 on the creativity test. The Education Department will also be making use of data obtained from the first research programme for the pilot project.