A tournament of minds

A tournament of minds

St Paul’s students put their minds to the test at the regional Tournament of Minds (TOM) competition, held last term at Auckland’s Albany Junior High School.

TOM is a problem-solving programme for teams of students from both primary and secondary years. Students are required to solve demanding, open-ended challenges from one of the following disciplines – Science Technology, Engineering Mathematics, Social Sciences and Language Literature.

This is the first year St Paul’s has taken part. The school entered two teams, made up of Year 9 and 10 students who are part of the new junior scholarship group – the school’s extension programme. They were the only Waikato school to participate.

The St Paul’s teams chose the field of Social Sciences and were given the task of combining two countries from a set list to create and re-populate an island – taking into consideration things like similarities, differences, religion and social welfare, to ensure the two countries they chose were a good match.

The teams had six weeks to prepare their long-term challenge, which they had to present in a creative way to a panel of judges on tournament day. They are also given another spontaneous challenge on the day.

“TOM really encouraged the students to step out of their comfort zone,” says St Paul’s teacher in charge of the junior scholarship group, Heidi Lewis.

“There was a large research element, so the students had to spend time researching what would and wouldn’t work in relation to their set challenge. For us, this was a good opportunity to put into practice some of the skills which the students have been developing in the junior scholarship programme.”

St Paul’s junior scholarship group is for Year 9 and 10 students who have shown exceptional academic promise. The programme looks to enhance certain key areas that are deemed essential for scholarship acceptance and academic success in the senior school. Key areas include leadership, teamwork, research skills, problem solving and creative thinking.

“At TOM, our teams received excellent commendations from the judges, and one of our teams qualified with Honours – which was fantastic for our first time entering,” says Mrs Lewis.

TOM regional competitions are held annually in Auckland, Palmerston North, Wellington and Christchurch, with the nationals held in Wellington.

Photo Caption: The students who participated in the TOM competition (L-R): Trey Lincoln, Theo Ludbrook, Campbell Colquhoun, Ben Littlejohn, Jeff Lester, Guy Ludbrook, Josh Gullery and Gustav Jooste (in front). Absent: Lucas Goodwin, David Koshy, Harry Derry, Joshua Gibbs, Laurence I'Anson and Frazer Tam.