Ka¯piti stu­dents win mind bat­tle


‘‘Their win aside, they were the most won­der­ful kids to rep­re­sent the coun­try. ’’

De­sign­ing a por­ta­ble shel­ter to evade an in­flux of ‘gi­ant house­eat­ing ter­mites’ won Ke­nakena School a top award in the Tour­na­ment of Minds Aus­tralasian Pa­cific Fi­nal in Ade­laide on Satur­day.

The Ka¯piti school’s group of seven stu­dents won the pri­mary divi­sion in the engi­neer­ing math­e­mat­ics chal­lenge, beat­ing eight other schools from through­out Aus­tralia and In­done­sia.

In do­ing so, Ke­nakena also be­came the only New Zealand school to win an Aus­tralasian Pa­cific Fi­nal twice – fol­low­ing sim­i­lar suc­cess in 2013 – in the Tour­na­ment of Minds, which tests stu­dents’ abil­i­ties in sci­ence tech­nol­ogy, engi­neer­ing math­e­mat­ics, lan­guage and lit­er­a­ture, and so­cial sciences.

The school’s team was made of year seven and eight stu­dents Sonny Ed­wards, 13, Ella Har­vey, 13, Mia Le­vaggi, 11, Keira Lewis, 12, Sean Moody, 12, Jazmyn Tschurtschen­thaler, 11, and Eva Marie Weld, 12.

Im­me­di­ately af­ter re­ceiv­ing a sce­nario in­volv­ing the gi­ant ter­mites, the com­pet­ing groups had three hours to de­sign and build a one-per­son ac­com­mo­da­tion shel­ter that could be re­lo­cated when needed, us­ing just five bam­boo sticks, news­pa­per, drink­ing straws, pipe-clean­ers and tape.

Fol­low­ing some some brain­storm­ing and a bit of trial and er­ror, Jazmyn said they de­cided that the most sta­ble de­sign would be a square-based pyra­mid struc­ture.

‘‘It is the strong­est shape be­cause it equally con­trib­utes the weight on each side of the tri­an­gle and can with­stand lat­eral and ver­ti­cal forces,’’ she said.

They named their de­sign ‘‘the poly­he­dral palace’’, and in­cor­po­rated an um­brella con­cept, al­low­ing their shel­ter to be opened up, placed on the ground, and then closed down for porta­bil­ity.

They were the only group in their divi­sion to come up with such a con­cept and the only ones with the idea to use the bam­boo sticks as a tele­scopic pole.

Ac­com­pa­ny­ing the stu­dents on the trip were three Ke­nakena School teach­ers, in­clud­ing Ta­tia Downer, Ja­nine McDon­ald and Sam Ed­wards - also the ‘‘proud mother’’ of Sonny.

Downer said that while the chal­lenge tested the stu­dents in­tel­lec­tu­ally, it was their

cre­ativ­ity and orig­i­nal­ity that helped them win. McDon­ald at­trib­uted their suc­cess also to the make-up of the team, with members’ abil­i­ties com­ple­ment­ing each oth­ers’.

‘‘As in­di­vid­u­als they have dif­fer­ent strengths, but put them to­gether and they form a pretty spe­cial team. They just clicked and worked bril­liantly.’’

Ed­wards said that in the past 12 years, only five schools from New Zealand had pro­gressed to win Tour­na­ment of Minds Aus­tralasian Pa­cific Fi­nal ti­tles.

‘‘Their win aside, they were the most won­der­ful kids to rep­re­sent the coun­try. They were chatty, bub­bly, friendly and a mag­net for other teams. They were amaz­ing advocates for Ke­nakena School and for New Zealand.’’

Act­ing prin­ci­pal Tina Buchanan said the school en­cour­aged work­ing col­lab­o­ra­tively, good time man­age­ment and cre­ative think­ing. ‘‘Th­ese are at­tributes we want our stu­dents to learn and take away for later life, and th­ese seven kids dis­played all of th­ese.’’

This year over 14,000 stu­dents from schools in Aus­tralia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Thai­land, Cam­bo­dia, Bangladesh, Viet­nam, In­done­sia, Uganda and South Africa com­peted in Tour­na­ment of Minds 2017.

The Ke­nakena School group was in­vited to the Aus­tralasian Pa­cific Fi­nal af­ter win­ning their divi­sion in the re­gional fi­nal in Palmer­ston North on Septem­ber 18 and then the na­tional fi­nal in Welling­ton on Septem­ber 23.

Other New Zealand schools to place in the Ade­laide event were Palmer­ston North In­ter­me­di­ate Nor­mal School, Up­per Hutt Col­lege and Hob­sonville Point Se­condary School.

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