South African schools will be participating in the massively popular Tournament of the Minds contest this year, after private education group ADvTECH was offered the opportunity to host the TOM Challenges in South Africa for the second year in a row.
Tournament of Minds (TOM) is an international problem-solving competition designed to give students the opportunity to participate as teams of seven and provide innovative and various solutions for stimulating open-ended challenges.
Launched in Australia in 1987, the tournament has since become an international programme, with competitions conducted in 16 different regions, including Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Thailand, Uganda and the UAE.
This year, the TOM competition has been restructured to reflect the current worldwide educational trend focused on STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) with the four Long Term challenges now including the categories of Social Sciences, Language Literature, STEM and The Arts.
Traci Salter, Academic Strategic Development Advisor at ADvTECH and Tournament of Minds Regional Director for South Africa says that the tournament entails each team selecting one Long Term Challenge to solve, and as a team working collaboratively over a period of six weeks – without any outside or adult assistance - preparing their creative and unique solution to the problem posed. This solution is then presented to a panel of judges and an audience on Tournament Day.
"On Tournament Day, teams are also presented with a Spontaneous Challenge. Spontaneous Challenges are previously unseen 'on the spot' challenges. The judges only provide a limited time for teams to discuss and plan their response," she says.
"The purpose of the Spontaneous Challenge is to closely analyse the team's ability to work under restricted timeframes and collectively provide a creative and effective solution backed by great reasoning and application of knowledge, skills and ideas."
The winners of each section of the South African TOM tournament are awarded the South African floating trophy, and are then entitled to travel to Australia / Asia Pacific to participate in the International TOM finals. This is where all the winners from the different regions across the world compete for the international TOM title.
Salter says it is crucial for all schools serious about academic excellence to start enriching and evolving their approaches to teaching and learning within the 21st Century and to ensure they continually develop the skills students will require in workplaces of the future, as identified by the World Economic Forum.
"Tournament of Minds provides and embraces the necessity for international competitions to shift substantially from Olympiad-style 'individual participant' competitions, to opportunities that allow for collaborative team participation, which include the use of different global competencies required in today's world," she says.
"This is a unique opportunity for schools to expose students to a global competition, and to develop in learners the kind of competencies they will require to address the unique collaborative type challenges they will face when working with different people from different backgrounds and cultures," says Salter.
"Education has moved significantly in considering the needs of the students of today and how we engage them in learning, as well as providing them with authentic, real life scenarios. Having the opportunity to be part of an international competition means that we are connecting to and keeping up with international trends and practices, and providing our students with opportunities to participate in this too."
Schools that have already registered have started with TOM Clubs as part of the school offering, and are providing their students with a variety of challenges to unpack and solve, as they prepare for the official challenges to be released by TOM Australia in September 2018.
After the tournament was initially introduced to the ADvTECH schools in 2017, this year TOM is open to any schools that would like to participate in the South African competition to be held on Saturday October 27 at Southdowns College, Centurion, Gauteng.
There are limited spaces for teams interested in participating in the 2018 competition. Schools that may be interested are encouraged to contact Traci (firstname.lastname@example.org ) for further details and information regarding the TOM South Africa 2018 / 2019 tournaments.