Tournament of the Minds

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A TEAM of ecstatic students at St Oliver Plunkett School, Cannon Hill, have been crowned International Champions at this year’s Tournament of Minds (TOM) competition in Darwin.

Competing in the Language/Literature category, St Oliver Plunkett’s team of seven students, named ‘7 Chapters’ and ranging from Years 4-6, were given three hours to solve a complex problem based on classic literature, character traits and would be a benefit to society.

This required students to prepare thoroughly as they had to make representations, plan their own self-made props under a limited budget, and so forth.

They also had to complete a spontaneous four-minute challenge without any outside help, which tested the impromptu abilities of their minds.

Tournament of Minds offers students an opportunity to solve authentic, open-ended challenges that foster creative, divergent thinking while developing collaborative enterprise, excellence and teamwork.

Challenges are set in the Arts, Language Literature, Social Sciences and STEM.

St Oliver Plunkett Enrichment teacher Di Wilston, who accompanied ‘7 Chapters’ to Darwin, said they faced some of the best TOM teams from all Australian states and internationally.

Ms Wilson, who co-ordinates the school’s LEAP program, said the team presented dynamic and remarkable solutions to the problems presented.

“Each team member displayed individual capabilities whilst working together productively as a group to solve each challenge they faced,” she said.

“Being thrown a problem to solve within a limited time period using role play and teamwork was an excellent way to encourage students to become creative thinkers and great decision makers.”

TOM team member Cara Moffat said atmosphere was electric as they waited to hear the winners name being called.

“We couldn’t believe it when our name was called out,” she said.

 “It was so amazing.

“We all just jumped around in ecstasy, hugging each other and screaming.”

The Year 6 student said the team worked really well together.

“We listen to each other and like to share ideas.

“We spent lots of our lunch times in the library working on our ideas.”

Cara said Ms Wilson was a real inspiration for the team.

“She’s been a really great help and encouraged us to be the best we can be.

Principal Paul Blinkhoff said it was a massive effort from the students, their families, the staff involved and the whole school community.

“I, along with the rest of our school community, am very proud of our students’ achievement at the Tournament of Minds international finals,” he said.

“We are proud of all our students engaged in the school’s LEAP program, which number around the 60 mark.

“It’s only in its second year of existence at St Ollies, and we are excited about where we can take it from here,” he said.

Paul said the school’s LEAP program offered students a range of extension activities in addition to classroom learning opportunities.

He said in addition to the Tournament of Minds competition, Ms Wilson co-ordinated STEM activities, which included robotics, coding and the engagement in maker spaces and she also accompanied the school’s Robocup team to Melbourne to compete in the National Robotics competition.

St Oliver Plunkett Parish Priest Fr Eric Alleaume said he was flabbergasted but not surprised when he heard the news the team had been crowned International champions.

“These kids doing their best is typical of what they do here at this school,” he said.

“They are extraordinary and that’s the best part about it.

“Our future is in very, very good hands,” he said.​