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.