Figuring out a way to get spaceships up into space without using any fuel is not your usual everyday school activity.

But a group of seven junior students from Paraparaumu College have completed a challenge doing just that, by 'using the gravitational pull of other celestial planets around the solar system'.

Competing at the regional Tournament of Minds (TOM) competition at Victoria University, winning their division and then competing at the national final, again winning their division, the team is heading to Hobart for the international finals.

TOM is an international inter-school problem-solving event which teams from Kāpiti regularly compete in.


All teams must complete a long-term challenge for the regional competition, along with a spontaneous challenge.

Teams are given six weeks to solve an open-ended challenge in Language Literature, The Arts, STEM and Social Sciences with the solution presented in dramatised fashion to a panel of judges and an audience.

The STEM team created a robot they designed, soldered and coded themselves and the Language Literature team came up with a new language feature that could help with wellbeing.

Both the Language Literature team - Oakley Fearon, Ella Harvey, Eva Weld, Sonny Edwards, Nikitia Cameron-Bennett, Keira Lewis and Jazmyn Tschurtschenthaler and the STEM team - Jackson Kelly, Hannah Harman, Leo Cameron, Mackenzie Taylor, Isabella Jajjo, Isabella Mastrodicasa and Emily Warner won their divisions at the regional competition.

Teams from around New Zealand competed in the finals.

The brief was to complete their big challenge in three hours in a 'lock up' with no outside help.

"We also had a spontaneous challenge right in the middle of it," STEM team member Jackson Kelly said.

"We had to use our science knowledge to come up with a way to propel a space craft through the galaxy without the use of jet propulsion, instead using the gravitational fields of celestial bodies.


"We had the help of teachers at school who taught us how to be dramatic so we could weave it into a story as well as all the science and maths to keep it interesting.

"We made it into a bit of a comedy with goofy aliens and ridiculous costumes but also including all of the science and formulae and using our technology skills to create an animation of how it would all work.

"It was all very dramatic."

After winning their divisions, both teams were invited to compete in Hobart at the international final alongside teams from Australia, Thailand, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates.

"Unfortunately only one team will be going due to the high costs of flights," Paraparaumu College teacher in charge of TOM, Kim Kelly said.

"Competing a TOM international final is a first for Paraparaumu College, which has competed in the challenge for the last three years.

"It is a truly wonderful competition in which students solve authentic, open ended challenges that foster creative and divergent thinking and encourages teamwork and enterprise."