UK Schools Memory Championships allow youngsters to show skills

REMEMBERING important dates in history, or the order of the periodic table can be tricky for some people – but not these students.

The North East Final of the UK Schools Memory Championships at Newcastle University 7 April 2011 - Samantha Walker of Seaham School
The North East Final of the UK Schools Memory Championships at Newcastle University 7 April 2011 - Samantha Walker of Seaham School

REMEMBERING important dates in history, or the order of the periodic table can be tricky for some people – but not these students.

Dozens of young people from across the region have been honing their memory skills for the last few weeks to take part in a nationwide competition.

Schools selected their best students for the North East final of the UK Schools Memory Championships, which took place at Newcastle University yesterday.

Under exam conditions, the young people were tested on the competition’s four main disciplines – random words, random numbers, dates and events, and sequences of playing cards.

Astley High School in Seaton Delaval was one of many to compete.

Pupil Lauren Brown, 15, said: “This is the first time I’ve taken part in the competition and I thought it went well.”

Her classmate and fellow competitor, Laura Telford, 14, said: “The numbers round was my favourite.

“I like to turn the numbers into characters, because it makes them easier to remember. For example, a two looks like a swan.”

Ryan Smedley, 13, from Shotton Hall School in County Durham, also liked the numbers round and used a technique called “chunking”. “Maths is my best subject at school, so I enjoyed that round,” he said. “I turn the numbers into hundreds, so three-nine-three becomes 393, and that seems to work.”

A team of four Year Nine students attended from George Stephenson School in Killingworth, North Tyneside.

Pupil Chris Hakin, 14, said: “I like the words round the best. I link them in my head by making up a story.”

Sophie Stevenson, from Joseph Swan School in Gateshead, was back after doing well in last year’s competition.

The 18-year-old A-level student said: “I came third in the nationals last year, but I don’t expect to do so well this time. The competition seems much higher.”

The overall winner of the regional round was 16-year-old Mark Towers from City of Sunderland College.

In silver position was Rhiannon Green from Stanley School, Co Durham, while Daniel Holliday from City of Sunderland College took bronze.

All three will now go through to the national final in London on July 13.

Established in 2008 by The World Memory Sports Council (WMSC) and educational support consultancy Inspire-Ed, the competition has been hugely successful in improving learning skills and overall confidence in thousands of students.

The competition’s comprehensive learning mechanism is headed up by eight times world memory champion, Dominic O’Brien.

His team of Inspire-Ed presenters visit each participating school to encourage and train young people on how to effectively use and develop their working memory.

The students are also shown how to develop and apply their newly-acquired skills to their studies through national curriculum-based examples.

Mr O’Brien said: “This has powerful implications for learning, providing that our brains do keep on growing as we mature.

“With exam success dependent on making good use of one’s memory, mastering memorisation techniques early on is a great platform for success.

“It is crucially important to train our children’s brains while they are still developing.”

I like to turn the numbers into characters, because it makes them easier to remember. A two looks like a swan

 

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