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Journal Writing Project-By Andy Wolter


Fri, Dec 13th, 2002
Posted in Columnists

What mineral used in soap, building materials, glass and fertilizer was mined in Death Valley in the late 1880s?

Two motorcycles simultaneously leave an intersection traveling in opposite directions. They are 360 miles apart in 8 hours. Find the speed of the faster bike if it went 3 mph slower than twice the speed of the slower bike.

Those were just two of the questions from the Senior High Knowledge Bowl question packets, which the Rushford - Peterson Knowledge Bowl team had to answer during a competition meet in Rochester last Wednesday. Pretty tough to answer in 30 seconds, huh?

Our team was formed a few weeks ago, there were five spots on the team, and since the organizer of the team thought that there might be more than five people that were interested in this, there was going to be a qualifying test. It was a good idea because at least 12 people signed up to take the test, which was to be held in the theater before school one day the next week. Out of those 12 or so, only 5 people showed up, which really took the point out of having the qualifying test, but we all took it anyway.

That was the team then, whether or not they could get a decent score on the test didn’t matter, what mattered was they (me included) were the only ones who managed to show up a 7:30 a.m. for the test. That was that and now R-P had a senior high Knowledge Bowl team.

After reading through some of the question packets for the first time, it was obvious that the senior high questions were a big step up from average trivia, it was hard. Between the time of the formation of the team, and the first scheduled competition the team figured it would be a good idea to get a few study sessions in. I use the term “study” lightly because the focus ended up being more on snack foods than knowledge bowl questions.

Our first planned study session started out as if we were actually going to study. Then someone decided we needed something to drink, so the team decided to take a stop at the IGA to get some pop. At this point, our study session was still a study session, just now with refreshments.

Then someone had noticed the movie shelf, and that was about the time the study session totally ended, at least for most of the night. After a few minutes of deliberation over some titles we decided on “The Brotherhood of the Wolf” a foreign action movie. Needless to say our aim of studying to learn something at this point was gone.

It was about 4:00 p.m. when we finally got to the house we planned on studying at. After about five minutes all of the team was settled in the living room, the room where we were supposed to be going over the ten or twelve question packets we were given to study with. We decided on leaving the questions alone, at least until we had seen the movie. The movie was good, but unfortunately for us, long. By 6:00 the movie was about 3/4 of the way over and most of us had lost track of the plot, and we had lost one member to cheer leading practice, so the four team members left over were finally studying.

We had gone over a few packets, and realized that we only knew about one sixth of the questions. (And if we only knew one sixth of the questions and still placed 7th out of 14 teams, I wonder about the other teams) So, we were a little discouraged.

We decided to have another study session to attempt (really try, actually) to sharpen our team's trivia skills. I bet you can guess how that worked out.

Turns out that half of the team was gone for most of this “study” session, which wasn’t really a problem considering we didn’t do anything anyway. Oh well, we thought-- you can’t really study for these things anyway, you either know the answers or you don’t because all the questions are random.

Two practice sessions down, and finally the day of the meet came. The team was all ready to go at 7:30 a.m. We all hoped we wouldn’t do too bad.

As it turns out, we didn’t. We managed to place 7th over all, out of 14 teams, and put forth a respectable effort during our three rounds of questioning. The questions were pretty standard, standard like the two I mentioned at the beginning of this article.

It all turned out okay (maybe the study sessions did help, after all they were fun.) and after the meet the team all got to go over to the Apache Mall food court for lunch, and generally avoid going back to school until a little after 1:00 p.m. It had been a pretty fun day.

Oh, I almost forgot-- the mineral is borax and the motorcycle was going 29 mph.

Andy Wolter is a student at Rushford-Peterson High School.The Journal Writing Project focuses on the writing of area young people.

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