Imagine the scene: The question appears on the screen. The contestants quickly read it and begin yelling what they think the answer may be. Somehow, one answer must be found within the chaos, and that answer must be found fast.
For eight fifth-graders at Fairview Elementary, this was a reality. And they’re good at it.
The Fairview Elementary Quiz Bowl team competed in the Missouri Thinking Cap Quiz Bowl against 52 teams from around the state on Jan. 14. Fairview came in first place in the fifth-grade category and also took first in the combined fifth- and sixth-grade category, even though Fairview has no sixth-graders.
“We were surprised we could beat someone older than us,” said Ryan Pruitt, a Quiz Bowl team member.
The main goal was to beat the score of last year’s Fairview team, which took first place in the fifth-grade division last year. The team even conquered its self-imposed challenge, winning with a score of 1265 compared to last year’s 1252.
During the competition, the team was asked 100 questions. The students had 60 seconds to answer but received more points the faster they did it. They could have a second try, but that was also worth fewer points.
Everyone could discuss the answer, but Andy Atkins, the elected captain, was usually the one to decide what the team would say. Chaston Kome was the keyboarder — his job involved listening and deciding when to submit the team answer.
“Everyone would just start yelling the answer,” Andy said. “If I was really confused, I would pick the person with the best track record, or use my own knowledge.”
Each fifth-grade class elected two people to represent it. The students started off practicing once a week in November but soon moved to twice a week. The practices were held during class time, and the whole team agreed that was one of the things they would miss now that the competition is over.
“Getting out of class was the best part,” said Madeline Siefkas, the only girl in the group. “That, and getting a trophy.”
Question topics included math, language arts, recreation and general knowledge . Group members agreed that math questions were the hardest and that fellow team member Alan Ni was the one to handle them.
“The math questions were so hard; this wasn’t just your one-plus-one type of stuff,” said team member Scott MacDonald.
The Quiz Bowl team learned about more than answering hard questions. Working as a team was also a challenge.
“I think all of us are very stubborn; I know I am,” team member Dan Hu said.
“I’m kind of quiet, so sometimes it was hard for me to get my answer heard,” team member Michael Sweeney said.
“It was such a bright group of kids, and everyone had pretty strong personalities,” said Lesa Greenwood, Quiz Bowl coach and computer specialist at Fairview. “But that was part of the experience — everyone learned what each other’s strengths are.”
The Fairview Quiz Bowl team will be recognized at the Columbia Board of Education meeting tonight.