TEAMWORK: A Tournament of the Minds team from St John’s College at Woodlawn shows off their engineering solution.
TEAMWORK: A Tournament of the Minds team from St John’s College at Woodlawn shows off their engineering solution. Hamish Broome

Brains challenged in student tournament

BRAINWAVES were pulsing out of St John's College at Woodlawn yesterday where more than 200 primary and secondary students gathered for the regional finals of the Tournament of Minds.

Up for grabs were eight places in the state finals in Sydney next month, and following that the Australian finals in Canberra.

Teams were faced with two brain-teasing challenges: solving a spontaneous problem in just 10 minutes, and a long-term problem handed out six weeks prior chosen from four categories.

Categories included maths and engineering, language and literature, applied technology, and social science.

St John's College student Charlotte Cornwell said her team spent six weeks' worth of weekends and lunchtimes devising an answer to the maths and engineering prob- lem: how to construct a device which made automatic sounds at adjustable intervals.

"There was a lot of new experience teaching others and building something ourselves from scratch," Charlotte said.

"We had to make up a device that could make a sound at 10 seconds from the start time and then a chosen time they announced just before we performed."

"We took a while to get our design - we started out with a seesaw and then we rebuilt that because it was too heavy on one end."

Designed to develop teamwork and creative thinking skills, the event is one of the fastest-growing inter-school programs in Australia.

Regional director Catherine Graham-Smith said the answers to the spontaneous prob- lem were always fascinating.

This year students were asked to explain what a group of penguins were "plotting" in a photo. Teams were marked on teamwork, creativity and communication skills.

She said imagination and reason were the secrets to success; and there were no right or wrong answers.

"It's really interesting to see what they come up with; you can never guess," Ms Graham-Smith said.

"The penguins could be men in suits plotting the next stock exchange disaster.

"They can say anything as long as they can explain it creatively."



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