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Quiz Bowl Competitions


Is your kid a history geek? Or maybe math is their thing or science or literature. They might just be one of the next quiz bowl winners. Quiz bowl contests are competitions between teams of students held to reward academic excellence all across the USA, as well as in the UK and Canada. Students from elementary school up to the collegiate level—including community college—are eligible to compete.

Two teams of between 4-5 players match wits by answering questions given to them by a moderator. Jeopardy fans will be familiar with the buzzer system players use to signal they're ready to answer each question. Students from one school can compete with each other or form teams to compete with different schools.

Quiz bowls originate with the College Bowl, aka the "Varsity Sport of the Mind" as a radio show which debuted on the NBC radio network in 1953. The contest eventually made its way to TV as the GE College Bowl. England had it's own show titled University Challenge. The bowl inspired today's multi-grade competitions and even themed tournaments such as the popular Bible Bowl at Christian schools.

There are two main organizations that run the tournaments—the Academic Competition Federation (ACF) and National Academic Quiz Tournaments (NAQT). The NAQT is run by former players, many of whom are successful professionals, who want to encourage the spirit of intellectual competition and team work. The ACF is run completely by student volunteers who write the questions which cover a range of academic topics with a minimum amount of questions devoted to pop culture.

There may be prizes given to the teams, but the main reward for these students is the prestige of winning the tournaments. To learn more about starting a team and hosting an event, visit the NAQT website.

Sources consulted:
  • Academic Competition Federation, accessed 2013. http://acf-quizbowl.com/

  • National Academic Quiz Tournaments, LLC, accessed 2013. http://www.naqt.com/

  • Program History. College Bowel Company, June 5, 2008. http://www.collegebowl.com/arch/history.asp
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Content copyright © 2014 by Trish Deneen. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Trish Deneen. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Trish Deneen for details.

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