V is For …

Yesterday, St. Mary’s hosted a quiz bowl tournament and nearly 30 teams showed up in a torrential rainstorm to duke it out using their gray matter. Or is it grey matter? Does it matter? What is matter?

Well, let’s get technical. Matter is what we are all made up of, atoms and other stuff that has mass. Some really smart people put it all together in a handy chart that groups the elements by column and row.

Periodic Table of the Elements (some of them, anyway)

Lots of science questions popped up during the day, and my recommendation to quiz bowlers is to have someone on the team responsible for memorizing the names and symbols on the periodic table. Hint: V isn’t for Valium.

Somebody else needs to know all about Shakespere’s plays, the casts, locations and plots of those plus all of Vivaldi’s operas. And maybe current (like Gilbert and Sullivan era) Broadway productions, famous conductors and song writers (John Phillip Sousa & Francis Scott Key differentiation is crucial.

John Phillip Sousa

Frances Scott Key

A third person should know everything there is to know about US history, it’s states, rivers, cities, battles, and other trivial facts about big wars involving other countries all the way back to Troy. Or the 13 years war or the 6 years war and maybe the Jamican general in charge of bobsledding.

The fourth person needs to know all about “pop” culture, from Madonna to Kitty Wells. They need to know all about sports, from Joe DiMaggio to the college mascot of the University of Maine (Black Bears) and University of Mass. (MinuteMen). And don’t forget the Oscars, Emmys and Grammys.

Guess Who?


Everybody should be able to do the math. Who doesn’t need to know about concave hexagonical triangles?

In all seriousness, with all the media hype about the dumbing down of America and how today’s kids don’t know anything, I ended the day on a very positive note about what’s going on in schools in my area of the world. These kids are shining stars and I hope they stay in state after graduation and keep our future bright.

Each team brought a minimum of two sponsors with them, at least one of them a teacher.  They don’t get paid extra to do this, so I want to commend them for taking the time and making the effort. Without the people (students, parents, teachers, principals) who are willing to give more than required, our communities would suffer.

Yesterday was a great experience and I am looking forward to doing it again next year.

About Laura Alford, PhD

I'm a recent graduate of LSU (PhD in Accounting). In addition to academic research, I also write fiction on Tuesday nights with the Asilomar Writers.
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