What is tournament of minds?
From the TOM website: Tournament of minds (TOM) aims to enhance the potential of our youth by developing diverse skills, enterprise, time management, and the discipline to work collaboratively within a competitive environment.
Teams are required to work together on a long term challenge for six weeks without assistance from teachers, parents or peers. They are encouraged to explore possibilities and experiment with ideas as they endeavour to produce their best possible solution. They develop a creative and original way to communicate this solution to others, working within predefined parameters such as limited materials, complex challenge criteria and the deadline of tournament day.
Students present the product of their ideas - their challenge solution - to a panel of judges and an audience on tournament day. They have ten minutes in which to present and must do so within a 3 metre by 3 metre performance area.
The teams must also participate in an unseen spontaneous challenge on tournament day. This challenge requires rapid interchange of ideas, the ability to think creatively and well developed group cooperation skills.
What are the challenges?
Teams solve challenges from a choice of disciplines. In 2016, the categories were adapted to improve STEM integration in the program:
- Science/Technology - challenges ask students to apply various technologies to solve a problem. They may need to develop an animation to explore the consequences of character design in online environments, or create the contents of a time capsule left behind by an expeditionary team in the year 2040.
- Language/Literature - challenges usually involve reading or researching literature and aspects of language, or transforming texts into other forms. They may be asked to demonstrate how classic tales could change over time when passed down by word of mouth, or use the characters from familiar children's books to tell an original story about courage and adversity.
- Engineering/Mathematics - challenges tend to involve designing and building devices to specific criteria. Students may need to build an unfolding bridge that can span a chasm, or a device that can ring a bell after two specific lengths of time.
- Social Sciences - challenges deal with dilemmas arising from community issues, often moral and ethical choices. Students might be asked to explore the cultural consequences of moving an iconic structure from one country to another, or the possible implications of Christopher Columbus landing in Botany Bay rather than America.
Should I try tournament?
Tournament of minds requires a certain skill set. The challenges are complex and open-ended, needing continuous engagement over the six week period to complete successfully.
Some of the skills required for tournament include:
- Teamwork and cooperation - Students work in a team of seven, with a mix of year groups and genders. Being able to get along and communicate in a team is essential.
- Knowing your strengths - Every student brings something different to a tournament team. Script writing, performance skills, costume and prop design, technology use, designing and making are required in almost every challenge, and no one team member can do it all.
- Dedication - The seven team members cannot be changed after the tournament period begins in term three. Each team member must be committed to every workshop session, and be able to attend the Regional Finals (as well as the State Finals if we make it that far!)
- Creativity - The challenges involve out-of-the-box thinking and need thinkers who can come up with interesting, creative solutions.
- Independence - Solving the tournament challenge is entirely up to the team. Nobody else can assist: not friends nor family or teachers. Even registering on the day of the finals must be done by the team alone, without adult help. This is an opportunity to learn and demonstrate leadership and independence.