Tournament of Minds

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The Tournament of Minds (ToM) is a school competition program available throughout Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Thailand, Hong Kong, India, Cambodia, Indonesia and Singapore. The competition is most prominent in Australia, but is slowly expanding to other countries. The program runs through the third school term, commonly commencing in the first week back at school.

Teams of students work to solve problems in one of four disciplines, these being: Science Technology, Language Literature, Engineering Mathematics, and Social Sciences. Students form teams of seven and work together to solve both spontaneous and long term challenges. There are two division, primary and senior, with the primary division finishing in year 6 (Year 7 in some states), and the secondary division finishing at year 10. Students in years 11 and 12 often assist the teams at their schools as coaches, and practice spontaneous challenges with the students.

The long term challenge is prepared by the students over six weeks, with minimal assistance from teachers or parents. The students receive an outline of the challenge and present their solution to the problem six weeks later at a regional competition. The solution takes the form of a dramatic production, with all costumes and props being created by the students with a strict 75AUD budget.

The spontaneous challenge is a very different aspect of the competition, where the students are judged on their lateral thinking processes and their ability to communicate effectively and work together as a team. The challenge is spoken to the team and they are given between three and five minutes preparation time, in which they are judged on their effective use of time and creativity of their ideas, amongst other criteria. They are then given one or two minutes to present the solution. No marks are awarded for presentation.

The scoring for the competition is a mixture of the long-term and spontaneous challenges. The team that scored the highest in each division (ST, EM, SS, LL) progresses to the state finals. Some states (such as South Australia) do not have a state final, and all schools in the state compete in the first round. The eight winning teams from each state then progress to the national finals, held in a different prominent Australian city each year. The state and national finals are held slightly differently to the regional competitions. The teams are given three hours to prepare their long-term challenge, as opposed to six weeks. Aside from the difference in time, the challenges are fundamentally similar. The teams still must also complete a spontaneous challenge.

The Tournament is designed to encourage lateral thinking, creativity and teamwork skills in young people around Australia and the Pacific region. The tournament has been embraced by many schools throughout the region, providing their students with a different approach to learning and giving them useful skills in communication.

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