As the world mourns the loss of Jeopardy!’s Alex Trebek, several Episcopal students are participating in competitions similar to the famous television game show. Members of the Episcopal Quiz Bowl team are incredibly bright and passionate about learning and that passion has paid off with impressive results this season. The team has already earned third and second place finishes at the Tal Atkins Memorial Tournament hosted by Caddo Magnet in Shreveport and the Louisiana Quiz Bowl Association Fall Tournament. With tournaments taking place online this year, these prodigies have the opportunity to compete in many more.
Preparing for a Quiz Bowl competition is similar to other team experiences. Just as athletes strengthen their muscles by lifting weights, quiz bowlers flex their brain power by running mock drills. Nine members of the team recently stayed after school on a Friday to answer questions on everything from evolutionary biology to French philosophers. Team leader Alex Nelson explains what makes the effort so rewarding. “Even before I knew Quiz Bowl existed, I always enjoyed learning (mostly useless) trivia that I could apply when solving crossword puzzles or that I would learn in class. I find it fun to learn trivia beyond what we’re taught in the classroom – although some of my past classes have certainly helped me answer questions – or beyond what is conventionally useful. (It might help that I have the tendency to get lost in endless rabbit holes on Wikipedia and to just keep reading about tangentially related topics.) To put it more succinctly, I find it very fun to learn something new – or, more often than not, many new things – with every practice.”
Even with the students’ natural inquisitiveness, it’s important to have a strategy. Quiz Bowl coach Dr. Billy Pritchard says each student is assigned a major area of specialization, such as literature, social studies/history or STEM and a minor specialization such as current events, philosophy, music, art or mythology. “A given student is responsible for mastering their major and minor fields,” he says. “Once they have, they can pick up an additional field.” Nelson says literature is her strong suit, although she is also learning more about visual art, music and philosophy. “Like many of the other members of Quiz Bowl, I am also able to answer a decent number of social studies and history questions and, at times, some science and math questions,” she says.
In addition to satisfying a quest for knowledge, Quiz Bowl has other benefits. Team member Justin Dynes explains more. “I think the number one thing that draws me into Quiz Bowl is definitely the sense of community that has grown over the past year. I have become close friends with many other people in Quiz Bowl through our practices and our meets. We even have some inside jokes that have grown over the years.” Dynes, who tries not to focus on just one topic area, says lately he has had success with science and math questions by using what he picked up in AP Chemistry and AP Calculus.
Quiz Bowl team members are a well-rounded group, with athletes, artists and National Merit Semifinalists among their numbers. Dynes and Nelson say Quiz Bowl has something for everyone. “I have talked to many people who think that it might be too difficult or that it focuses on obscure trivia knowledge,” says Dynes. “However, what people don’t realize is that most of my, as well as other people’s, knowledge in Quiz Bowl comes from the classes I have taken in high school. For example, United States History comes up a lot in questions, and I know a lot of people who know that information very well.” Nelson agrees. “I think that anyone has the potential to do well in Quiz Bowl,” she says. “That is, there is such a great variety of questions – from mythology and philosophy to sports and pop culture and more – that there is arguably a question type for everyone.”
Nelson, Dynes and Dr. Pritchard hope to build upon recent Quiz Bowl success. Students interested in participating or learning more about Quiz Bowl can contact any of them for more information.
Want to try your hand at the Quiz Bowl experience? Try answering the sample questions below from the National Academic Quiz Tournaments, LLC.
On the left side of this painting, a castle built by the Knights Templar sits on a hill above a structure that may represent Agali, a monastery once led by Saint Ildefonso. This painting exaggerates the height of a cathedral spire. In its foreground, rolling green hills border a river that is spanned by the Alcántara bridge. A stormy sky appears above the title Spanish city in—for 10 points—what painting by El Greco?
A version of this amino acid attached to an adenosine molecule serves as a common methyl donor cofactor. Chloroplasts, mitochondria, and bacteria use a formyl derivative of this compound. Cysteine and this compound are the only amino acids to contain sulfur. This amino acid is encoded by AUG, the start codon. For 10 points—name this amino acid used by ribosomes to begin protein translation.
1. View of Toledo (or Vista de Toledo)
2. Methionine (accept Met or M)