Podium eludes students
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.
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