Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Limestone County Scholar's Bowl

You don’t have to state your answer in the form of a question, but the answers would make Alex Trebek very proud. We are not talking about a new game show, or new reality show, but the Limestone County Scholar’s Bowl Competition. Every spring each school in Limestone County sends a team to compete in the annual Scholar’s Bowl Competition, and it is amazing the amount of knowledge our students display at these competitions.
The questions used in the competition cover many different categories including, but not limited to: pop culture, history, geography, literature, science, and mathematics. On some of the math questions students are given ten seconds, as opposed to the customary five seconds, to come up with the answer and may use pencil and paper. Ten seconds is not enough time for most people to even write down the question much less answer the question, but these contestants are not most people and it is amazing how fast many of the students can solve the math problems.
Limestone County has four divisions of Scholar’s Bowl teams: 4th and 5th grade, 6th grade, Junior High, and High School which compete for the county championship. Each team has a coach who prepares them for the competition by quizzing the team members with sample questions they may encounter at the competition and providing some helpful strategies that might help them compete against the opposing teams. Each team may consist of several students, but only four players may be at the table to field questions from the moderator. Each team member has a “clicker” hooked to a buzzer in front of him and when the students think they know the answer to the question they try to be the first person to buzz in with the correct answer. If students buzz in before the question is complete and give an incorrect answer, the opposing team has the entire question read to them again so buzzing in early is a calculated risk. For example the question may be something like, “This novel highlights the antics of two young boys on the Mississippi River in the mid 1800’s” and the student may buzz in with the answer The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn but the remainder of the question might be, “Who is the author is this American classic?”
The competitions use the Alabama Scholastic Competition Association (ASCA) format which includes multiple rounds using a variety of questioning formats. For example, round two consists of a toss-up question that is available to members of both teams, followed by a bonus round only offered to the team that correctly answered the toss-up question. Round three is actually a “worksheet round” in which both teams are given twenty identical questions and two minutes to write their answers on the sheet. All six members of the team may help with the worksheet round, and these members must work together using their collective abilities and strengths to come up with the correct answers. This round is really something incredible to watch as most teams split up the questions and then at the last minute write the answers on the final answer document with just enough time to spare.
Two schools compete against each other in each match, but the members are not only competing as part of a team, but each person that answers a question also earns individual points that will be used to recognize the high individual scorer. At the end of the high school competition, the high scorers from the day’s competition compete against each other for the honor of being named the high individual scorer for the county. This round consists of thirty toss-up questions and the person earning the most points is awarded the honor of high scorer for the county.
The students of Limestone County are very impressive and perhaps no other event highlights the knowledge of our students like the Scholar’s Bowl Competitions. To win the competition takes team work, strategy, and above all an incredible amount of knowledge on the part of the students. It is very difficult to prepare for the competition so a lifestyle of reading and curiosity is what it takes to be successful in this competition. If you ever get a chance to come out and watch a Scholar’s Bowl even,t it is worth the time you will spend.
The great thing about all extracurricular events is that they give students a chance to succeed in whatever endeavor is of interest to them. Very few people are good at everything but everyone is good at something. When students have an activity that connects them to the school, they are more likely to be interested and succeed. The Scholar’s Bowl Competition is an excellent way to help nurture the love of learning in our students and we are fortunate in Limestone County to have such wonderful programs like the Scholar’s Bowl Competition.

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