Challenges result in successes

Students from across the Diocese were still coping with the challenges of COVID-19 restrictions throughout Term 3. And those taking part in the Tournament of the Minds (ToM) competition had to overcome a further range of changes.  

ToM is an international program providing an opportunity to participate in creative activities involving stimulating open-ended challenges that demand experimentation and reward divergent thinking. The tournament promotes learning and developing as an individual within a team structure.  

Usually, students compete in two ToM challenges – one, spontaneous, completed on competition day, and the second, long-term, completed over five or six weeks. This year, students only completed a long-term challenge. They had to choose a discipline area on which to focus and present from the arts, social sciences, language, literature, or STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). 

St Paul’s Primary School, Gateshead, entered two teams this year, one in STEM and one in social science. STEM provides an integrated approach for students to deepen their conceptual understanding and use their creative and critical thinking skills to solve challenges within a real-world context. Both teams did exceptionally well and adapted to the challenges and changes presented to them.  

Congratulations go to the STEM team, which took out the Primary title in the Hunter Region. This is the second year in a row the STEM team from St Paul’s has been selected to represent the Primary STEM division.  

Unfortunately, this year the team will not be able to compete in the state finals.  

There were myriad changes this year due to students not being able to compete face to face. But, as St Paul's Year 6 student Ariella Doyle said, even with COVID-19 restrictions, it was amazing to be able to compete for the last time in the super challenge. “It was extremely fun and interesting,” Ariella said, one of the competitors in the winning STEM team. “I really enjoyed the differences to previous years’ challenges.”         

Students from St Paul’s created a video presentation that was judged over the weekend of 12-13 September.  

“This year, ToM was really different,” said Year 6 student Charlotte Withford. “I liked some parts of it, but there were a lot of differences that required us to adjust our approach.  

“I usually enjoy being creative with scene changes, but we couldn’t do that this year as it was more efficient to edit the scenes using green-screen technology. We also ran into an issue with costumes as my costume was green and so was the screen. I just looked see-through. Although there were lots of challenges, we made it in the end.” 

Some of the tournament changes involved the rules, for example, the way in which teams presented and what they could or could not use.  

“The biggest changes to this year’s competition were that there were no state finals, and we didn’t have the opportunity to present our work to the judges,” said Year 6 Student Will Reiss. 

“Instead, we filmed and edited a video about our topic, Quo Vadis. My favourite part was that we could film and edit our submission to perfection. I also enjoyed it as I didn’t need to overcome stage fright and nerves.” 

Ariella said the super challenge was an awesome way to adapt to the changes. “I am pleased to say, I really enjoyed it,” she said. “I really would have loved to have the opportunity to experience state championships for the first time, but at least we were still able to participate in and experience the challenge.”  

It has been wonderful to see primary-aged students cope with the change and challenges that 2020 has thrown up. Students showed true dedication and resilience during the competition this year and they overcame them in a positive way. 

Follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.