School students shine at Opti-Minds final

19 October 2012
Professor Frank Bullen meets with this year’s Toowoomba Opti-Minds team from Middle Ridge State School (from left) Sam Virgo, Hayden Jago, Blake Hohenhaus, Rani Brennan, Rebekah Mullen, Matthew Buchanan and Tiani Lee.
The University of Southern Queensland’s Faculty of Engineering and Surveying supported Middle Ridge State School students with $500 in their bid to become State Champions in the Opti-Minds competition in Brisbane this month.

Opti-Minds is an inter-school competition which challenges teams to solve demanding, open-ended questions about language literature, science and engineering or social sciences.

The Middle Ridge State School team, comprised of seven students from Years 4 to 7, recently obtained first place in the regional Toowoomba Opti-Minds challenge, securing their invite to the state finals to represent the Toowoomba region.

The team were given a topic in their chosen category, in this case Science and Engineering, and had six weeks to work on a solution and presentation to the problem given.

No assistance from teachers, parents, family members or friends was allowed.

The Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Surveying Professor Frank Bullen said a parent of one of the students had approached him for support from the Faculty due to the engineering focus of the competition.

‘It’s great to see students taking an interest in Science and Engineering at such an early age,’ Professor Bullen said.

‘The faculty was happy to support the Middle Ridge team and I have no doubt they would have done the Toowoomba region proud in their efforts at the state finals.’

The Toowoomba team was unsuccessful in obtaining a placing this year with two teams being awarded honours — Tannum Sands State School and Victoria Park State School.  Chapel Hill State School was awarded first place.

‘The whole weekend was a fantastic experience for them all and something they will remember for a lifetime,’ Mum Simone Hohenhaus said.

‘They will have gained many skills that will serve them well.’

The state finals featured representatives from each category from all 14 regions from across the state and all teams participated in a youth forum and “Ideas Market”.

The teams were given three hours to prepare their responses to a Long-Term Challenge and Spontaneous Challenge.

Regions represented in the state finals include Toowoomba, Brisbane North, Brisbane South, Brisbane West, Cairns, Gold Coast, Mackay, Mt Isa, Rockhampton, South-West Queensland, Sunshine Coast, Torres Strait, Townsville and Wide Bay.
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