Last weekend (Oct 15-17), Kak Saf & I accompanied our students, Aiman, Kaif and Ghavinaash to the RHB-The Star Mighty Minds 2010 National Finals. We entered the state level competition last August and won first place! Besides pocketing a cool RM3k prize money, the students also won the rights to represent Selangor at the National Finals.
The Finals were held at the Swiss Garden Hotel, Jalan Pudu. Prior to the competition, the students met daily after they had completed their SPM Trial to prepare for it. The competition tested the students on their maths, science & general knowledge. Since Kak Saf & I are both English teachers, we couldn't help the students much in the first 2 areas. We just quizzed the students on some general knowledge stuff and oversaw their mock-oral presentation. Oftentimes, it was us who got stumped when the students presented us with questions/puzzles such as this one called the Einstein Puzzle (try it, it's really fun!).
At the state challenge, the win came as a surprise. I wasn't really expecting it. But this one's different. I really thought that they stood a good chance of being crowned the champions. Not only did they work well as a team with each person having their own specialised set of abilities, they were also quite well-prepared for the competition.
The Finals comprised of 5 challenges:
1) The Hand-on Challenge
2) The Minds-on Challenge
3) The MCQ Challenge (multiple-choice questions)
4) The Oral Presentation
5) The Buzzer Round
The first challenge required the students to create a more practical clothes stand. The boys came up with a great model that put them in first place!
But after the second and third challenge, we dropped to number 3. Nevertheless, we were ecstatic that we had made the cut (only the top 5 teams out of the 14 states would proceed to the next round)!
Being in the top 5 was already an achievement but we were all aiming for the first spot. That night, the students stayed up late to prepare for the oral presentation. They prepared their scripts, the PowerPoint slides, practised their lines and timed their presentation until they got really tired and cranky. Haha.
The next day, the boys looked really smart in their blazers, all ready to do the oral presentation. The lower-secondary finalists went on stage first. Each team was only given 3 minutes. Then, it was the upper-secondary students' turn.
Aiman, Kaif & Ghavinaash did really well. Their confident performance may have put them as the front runner coming into the last round: the buzzer quiz.
It was a nail-biting final. The KL and Sarawak teams monopolised that round. KL was in a particularly devastating form. They positively blitzed through that round.
Kak Saf, Kak JC and I made a quick calculation. It's going to be either us, KL or Sarawak who were going to be champs.
When the result was announced, we got third place, Sarawak second and KL first. We lost to KL by a mere 0.45 marks!
Takpelah, they still walked way with RM2k and got their picture plastered in the news. They gave it their best shot. And I was so proud of them :)
I've really enjoyed the whole experience not just because I got to stay in a nice hotel and eat sumptuous hotel food (though these were good enough reasons ;))
I've learnt a lot from my students which reminds me of the book I'm currently reading, The Essential 55, by Ron Clark. The book was dedicated to his parents and students. He wrote, "To my students, thank you for teaching me more about life than I could ever teach you".
And later in the acknowledgements, he wrote, "...to all of my former students, every day I spent with you was magic. I learned, I laughed, and I had the time of my life. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I love you."
Actually, I was planning to write a whole other entry on The Essential 55 book, but what I'm getting at now is, teaching can be so much fun. Once in while you do come across that magical teaching moment/experience. And you realise that sometimes your students teach you more about life's lessons than you can ever teach them about the English Grammar or what not.
I've learned from these students about working hard to achieve your goals. It's humbling to see the hard work that these students put in (even though they are already really, really smart).
They are also very independent, proactive and resourceful. Kak Saf and I needn't do much. They really do deserve the bulk the credit.
So thanks RHB and The Star for organising a great competition. The competition really does challenge the students' creativity and mental prowess in a way that's different from the typical pen-and-paper tests.
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Btw, catch them on NTV7 on Nov 3, at 7.00pm!