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SA Team Wins ThinkQuest Narrative

Six primary school learners from the Eastern Cape are off to San Francisco to collect their prizes for winning the Think Quest Narrative competition, a web-based educational competition for learners from around the world sponsored by Oracle.  This narrative competition requires learners in teams of 3 to 6 children to design and build educational websites on an educational topic using the online project tools. 

TQ team1
Luzuko and Lithemba from Cotswold Primary in Port Elizabeth doing research for their part of the project at the Addo National Park

TQ Team2
Kai, Tristan, Holly and Ashley just before showcasing their project at Stirling Primary in East London

Learners are encouraged to form teams across social, cultural and international borders. South African teams make use of the opportunity to involve learners from different cultural backgrounds and often from different schools on the same team. Entries are evaluated by a number of international judges from more than 15 countries.

This South African team won the Under 12 age group competing against learners of a similar age from all over the world. The judging criteria required them to present in-depth rich narratives that they produced themselves and from a variety of information sources which they were required to reference accurately.  Their project content needed to be free of grammatical errors, well organised and raise awareness around issues of global interest.

The team members are from mixed cultural backgrounds.  The languages they speak at home include isiXhosa, Afrikaans, Mandarin and English. Their project engaged them in plenty of research as well as interviewing and surveying their local communities of adults and children.  Rather than drawing on secondary sources the team members interviewed local experts such as their own community members, tour guides and eco-environmentalists. The team learned a range of valuable new skills during this process, while exposing the tourist attractions of their province to the rest of the world.

These 6 learners form one team even though they live more than 300 kms apart.  Their project work started with the question, “Can I be a good tour guide?”  The end result was their competition entry entitled “Tour of a life time” from the Roaring of Exploring Touring Company.  Their home page starts with the following invitation:

“We offer exciting tours to Nelson Mandela Bay, Kragga Kamma Game Reserve, Port Elizabeth beaches, Addo Elephant Park, entertainment centres and historical and cultural museums. Come with us and see what our area has to show you.”

The two team coaches are teachers at two government schools in the Eastern Cape; Claire Dean is from Stirling Primary in East London and Brenda Hallowes is from Cotswold Preparatory School in Port Elizabeth.  Both teachers have attended a variety of professional development interventions coordinated by Schoolnet SA and Oracle. They are senior trainers for SchoolNet SA.

Each child won a laptop computer with an approximate retail value of $1,500.  In addition each child, along with one parent won a trip to the Awards Ceremony “ThinkQuest Live” in San Francisco in October. Furthermore, each of the two schools received an award of $5000.

The announcement of the winners and more details about each winning entry in the different age groups can be seen on the ThinkQuest website and previous winning websites created by students around the world over the past 14 years can be seen on theThinkQuest Library.

SchoolNet SA has assisted Oracle in developing a ThinkQuest Training Resource CD and is willing to provide training to interested teams and coaches. Contact SchoolNet SA for more information, or call us at 011 4035777.

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