20th October 2021
A Junior School team of seven students in Years 4, 5 and 6 has won the international final of the annual Tournament of Minds competition, scheduled to take place in Perth but instead conducted online.
The ‘Fluorescent Unicorns’ team was in the STEM (Science Technology Engineering Maths) category of the competition and was given 15 minutes to solve an open-ended problem and three minutes to present their “stormy nights” solution.
Mrs Viv Bath is Girton’s Deputy Head of Junior School and, for more than 20 years, has led Tournament of Minds as a popular Girton co-curricular activity. Mrs Bath said Girton’s Tournament of Minds teams had been tenacious throughout lockdowns.
“We had seven teams enter the Regional Tournament of Minds competition this year.
“The day before we were due to video our pre-prepared solutions, we went into lockdown and the students had to perform their presentations via Zoom.
“Nevertheless, three of our teams won the Regional finals and competed in the online State tournament.
“Victoria, Queensland, NSW and ACT competed online, and SA, WA and NT were able to perform in a live competition held in each of their states. It was a huge job to bring it all together,” Mrs Bath said.
Tournament of Minds (TOM) is a national program for all primary and secondary students providing the opportunity to solve authentic, open-ended challenges that foster creative, divergent thinking whilst developing collaborative enterprise, excellence and teamwork. The winning Girton Junior STEM team were required to present documents before the tournament and research three famous identities related to their STEM discipline. The team researched Mark Robur (famous Youtuber), Ozlem Tureci (inventor of Pfizer vaccine) and Mark Zuckerberg (co-founder of Facebook).
“Our students had a Plan of Attack organised that could be applied to a range of problem-solving situations. It is wonderful to watch the students make critical decisions under pressure, and the rapid exchange of ideas makes for entertaining viewing.
“Over the last few months, the students have developed their problem-solving skills, their ability to work in a team, their thinking processes and they have become more flexible and creative.
“Tournament of Minds encourages quick thinking and collaboration. It’s fantastic to see students having the courage to put themselves on the spot and work their way out of a problem,” Mrs Bath said.