Friday, March 17, 2006

Scholastic Bowl in the news.

No, it's not the St. Ignatius team - our squad was mustered out in the regionals - but the Scholastic Bowl team from Auburn High School in Rockford is on its way to tomorrow's state championship in Peoria. Today's Chicago Tribune has a front page story profiling the team and looking at the combination of individual talent and teamwork that account for Auburn's success. For the uninitiated, the basic mechanics of Scholastic Bowl are explained as follows:

Scholastic Bowl is like "Jeopardy" on steroids.

Unlike other popular high school academic competitions, such as the Science Olympiad or the Worldwide Youth in Science and Engineering challenge, which focus on specific subjects, the Scholastic Bowl forces students to master many topics.

Contestants face questions in calculus, astronomy, home economics, European history, classical music, agriculture and even driver's ed.

In some cases, competitors must know recondite information. (Give the more common name of Bach's Six Concerti Grossi, BMV 1046-51, 1717-1721. Answer: Brandenburg Concertos.) But most questions focus on material that well-studied honors students should know.

During a recent competition, students were quizzed on linear functions and the theory of relativity. And they had to know the differences between fascism and mercantilism, and between Hinduism and Buddhism.

Scholastic Bowl is reminiscent of "College Bowl," the popular 1960s TV program. Teams of five students sit at facing tables. A moderator asks a "tossup" question and any student can ring in. If the student answers correctly, her--or more likely--his team (boys significantly outnumber girls) earns 10 points.

That team gets first crack at the "bonus question," a multi- part question worth 20 points. Teams have 30 seconds to huddle and come up with the "bonus" answers. If they do not, the other team gets a shot. The top-scoring school wins.
Given that Ignatius is long out of the running, I wish the Rockford Auburn kids well in Peoria. I also commend the Tribune for giving a group of smart and studious high school students the recognition they deserve and don't always get. Bravo! AMDG.


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