Mind-blowing results for our schools

Teams from NSW public schools have taken first places and honours in the International Tournament of Minds final in Tasmania.

Image: The Toormina Public School team in Richmond, Tasmania: (L-R) Fyn Harrison, Amy Dart, Siena Walsh, teacher Mrs Jodie Perry, Regan Luck, Miranda Crawford, Emily Crawford, Hunter Broadbent.

Teams from NSW public schools have taken three first places and two honours (second placings) in the International Tournament of Minds final in Hobart, following their victories at regional and state level.

Tournament of Minds is an international team problem-solving contest, in which seven-member teams in primary and secondary school categories are judged on a Long Term Challenge, prepared with three hours’ notice, and a Spontaneous Challenge, in one of four areas: the Arts, STEM, Language Literature and Social Sciences (moral and ethical issues). The Hobart final included entries from New Zealand and Hong Kong.

The competition aims to develop students’ enterprise, time-management and collaboration skills as well as their problem-solving ability.

Smiths Hill High School triumphed with two first places in the secondary division, in Social Sciences and STEM.

The Social Sciences Long Term Challenge involved teams designing relief housing for individuals and families taking into account their safety and needs, but also how to raise support for the design and how construction could be funded.

The STEM Long Term Challenge involved building a machine that could move a ping-pong ball from 1.6-metre high to a specific spot.

Principal David Deitz said the school was very proud of the team’s achievement.

“The Tournament of Minds program is a wonderful opportunity for our students to demonstrate their passion for learning, problem-solving and to demonstrate their skills and talents in an exciting, vibrant, and public way,” he said.

“Their recent success at the highest level was testimony to the guidance provided by their teachers and their personal dedication, teamwork and passion for the program.”

The Long Term Challenges were the same in the secondary and junior divisions, and the Spontaneous Challenge for all teams was to create a road sign identifying the challenges the team faced on their way to the final.

In the primary division, Woollahra Public School won in the Arts section, in which the challenge was to demonstrate how the team had travelled across the galaxy to the newly discovered planet Thylacine to record its finest creative arts, with the team presenting the planet’s best on their return to earth.

Toormina Public School won Honours in the Language and Literature category, in which the challenge was to identify a missing book and who took it after a lightning strike throws all the books in a library off the shelves.

Hastings Public School won Honours in the STEM section. Hastings Public School teacher Karl Morris said the skills required include creative thinking, critical thinking and communication.

“And these kids obviously have this in spades,” he said.

Benjamin Grummitt from the school’s team said it’s a real mind-tester. “You have to think outside the box,” he said.

Team-mate Frida Aaso agreed. “We got to do something new and it helped me think about things in a different way,” she said.

“It also helped work out our strengths and weaknesses.”

The judges were professionals from education, the arts and industry, trained to assess creative performance and the technical aspects of the presentations.

The event was sponsored by the University of New South Wales and Macquarie Dictionary.

Entries are now open for the 2020 Tournament through the event’s website.

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