Podium eludes stu­dents

Matamata Chronicle - - News -

For the last six months, the Mata­mata Chron­i­cle has been fol­low­ing the progress of our ex­tremely tal­ented Fu­ture Prob­lem Solvers from Mata­mata In­ter­me­di­ate.

Here is the last re­port from the girls’ coach, Avon Hansen. Well three of the Fu­ture Prob­lem Solver girls, their par­ents and I are back from the United States.

We never made the podium fin­ish we had been hop­ing for but the girls felt, af­ter their exam, that they had done their best, es­pe­cially given the in­tense com­pe­ti­tion.

We ar­rived in Chicago from San Fran­cisco.

Chicago is a beau­ti­ful city. The girls loved shop­ping on the fa­mous Mag­nif­i­cent Mile and the peo­ple were very friendly and help­ful – even the home­less.

Af­ter three days of rest and re­lax­ation in Chicago, we hired a 12-seater van to take us to In­di­ana.

There were lots of laughs on the way es­pe­cially when the GPS sys­tem told us to go north when we were meant to be go­ing south.

In the end we re­lied on some printed Google maps which for­tu­nately one of the dads had down­loaded.

On the way south, we stopped at a Den­nys for a meal and it felt a lit­tle like be­ing in a Hill­billy show.

Grits was on the menu, which even the wait­ress con­fessed to not hav­ing ever eaten. We avoided the dish.

At In­di­ana Univer­sity, Bloom­ing­ton – a cou­ple of hours fur­ther south – there was a cashier who wore a hair net.

It re­minded me of Ena Sharples from Corona­tion Street.

In­di­ana Univer­sity was lovely. The town is re­ally a lit­tle vil­lage built around the univer­sity, of­ten the case with Amer­i­can univer­si­ties.

The univer­sity was spread over many hectares, in park-like set­tings (in­clud­ing squir­rels and chip­munks) and built of lime­stone slab build­ings about 160 years old.

Be­sides the univer­sity, there was a grid­iron sta­dium, seat­ing 180,000+ peo­ple, sev­eral swim­ming pools, in­door soft­ball sta­dium (full-sized pitch un­der cover) and a huge bas­ket­ball com­plex, which had tiered seat­ing to such dizzy­ing heights I re­fused to go to the top.

Even the girls were ap­par­ently tread­ing very care­fully (odd con­sid­er­ing they seemed to have no fear of any ride at Dis­ney­land, which we vis­ited be­fore re­turn­ing home).

Af­ter the girls had sat their book­let com­pe­ti­tion, they came out of the exam eu­phoric.

They thought they had done a great book­let.

I was very happy for them but when I looked at some com­po­nents of their book­let the next day I re­alised they had missed the boat. Not in a huge way but enough for them to lose big marks be­cause they hadn’t re-read the spe­cific task they were asked to achieve and had fol­lowed an­other con­nected task but not one re­lated enough to give them the marks they needed.

The night be­fore the prize­giv­ing, I gath­ered the girls to tell them that they have a podium fin­ish.

The other adults and I de­cided it was bet­ter to tell them be­fore the prize­giv­ing rather than them find­ing they hadn’t achieved well dur­ing the prize­giv­ing.

They were up­set whey they re­alised what they had done.

On the af­ter­noon, af­ter they had writ­ten their book­let, they needed to pro­duce a dra­matic pre­sen­ta­tion of their book­let.

We had done a lot of prepa­ra­tion for this be­fore we left New Zealand and even though their pre­sen­ta­tion was well above the op­po­si­tion, penalty points for go­ing over time, plus a mis­quote of a com­pul­sory quote and a penalty over what was con­sid­ered to be a cos­tume un­der the rules, cost the girls 15 penalty points – which put them out of con­tention for an­other podium fin­ish. This also added to their dis­ap­point­ment.

Af­ter the In­ter­na­tional Con­fer­ence we flew to Los An­ge­les where we spent a day or two at Dis­ney­land, then two of the four girls vis­ited Uni­ver­sal Stu­dios.

The at­mos­phere of Dis­ney­land was just what we all needed to di­min­ish our sad­ness about not hav­ing suc­cess at In­di­ana. So near and yet so far. The girls have re­cov­ered. They have learned a hard les­son about re­silience and ac­cept­ing that ev­ery­thing in life may not al­ways go the way that we want it to.

Maybe that is the im­por­tant les­son they learn from their big na­tional ex­pe­ri­ence.

wouldn’t most could in­ter-

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.