Putting minds together
December 19, 2011
by Jenni Sebora

Skills desired by Fortune 500 companies, in order of importance, are: teamwork, problem solving, interpersonal skills, oral communications, and listening. Helping to develop these skills is Knowledge Bowl.

Knowledge Bowl competitions are interdisciplinary academic contests designed for students in grades seven through 12. It is a jeopardy-style quiz game that challenges students to work together in teams of four to five students to answer general high school questions in a written and several oral rounds.

Knowledge Bowl is my new coaching endeavor. I am working with some bright students who like taking tests and love facts and knowledge. Knowledge Bowl requires teamwork, problem solving, interpersonal skills, oral communication, and listening. Those are great transferable skills. It is also such a delight to see students “put their heads together” to try and solve problems – bringing together many minds with various skills. That is how problems are solved.

Knowledge Bowl Senior High Program was first introduced in 1979, with eight school districts in West Central Minnesota participating. The participation in this great program has grown to more than 800 teams from 285 school districts across Minnesota. It involves more than 6,000 students every year.

Last Saturday, we got on a bus at 6:30 in the morning to drive for two hours for a meet. At this particular meet, there were 21 junior high teams and almost as many junior varsity and varsity teams. There is no limit to the number of teams that a school brings.

In the contest, teams of students compete to answer written and oral questions. The competition starts with the written round, which is a multiple choice exam taken by each team as a whole. Results of this round are used for seeding teams in the oral round.

No team is eliminated, and every team participates in every round. Team groups are rearranged after each round on the basis of their accumulated total points.

The questions are related to all areas of learning in secondary education. Junior high questions are different from senior high, as should be. But, the junior questions alone can make a majority of adults look like they don’t know anything.

I am proud to be working with all of the Knowledge Bowl students. They love this “sport.” They have great enthusiasm, and it is a wonderful thing to be watching our young people working together to come up with an answer.

We have a foreign exchange student from Germany on our team. Last week was her first meet. I asked her what she thought of Knowledge Bowl.

She said, “I love it. At first, it doesn’t look so much fun, but then you do it, and it is so much fun.”

That says it all. (Getting free donuts and orange juice when you arrive certainly adds to the fun, too. For me, too).

Come to a Knowledge Bowl meet, and the statement, “Kids these days,” will never cross your mind or lips, at least not in a negative way.

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