We’re in the midst of an exciting season here in Central Minnesota, and no it’s not the massive amount of snow that came down on us in recent weeks. Many school sports and activities have been having their state meets and tournaments. One of these, the State Knowledge Bowl Meet, was held just recently on April 12 and 13. Knowledge Bowl is a passion of mine because I compete in it personally, and also because it really is a great way to represent the strong schools in our area.
For those who haven’t heard of Knowledge Bowl, it’s a school-sponsored competitive activity where students use their knowledge and experience rather than athletic prowess. At a meet, teams first compete in the written round, a test of 60 questions, and are then placed into rooms based on their results, with the top three scoring teams in Room 1, the next three in Room 2 and so on. From here the oral rounds begin. The team members sit at tables with a centrally placed buzzer strip, and can buzz in at any time as questions are asked. Correct answers gain the team a point each, and based on their scores at the end of each oral round, teams are then shifted among the rooms accordingly. The winner is the team with the most points after all rounds are complete.
Knowledge Bowl makes for such an interesting and enriching activity because there’s so much information that is covered. Among Knowledge Bowl competitors, we often joke there’s no effective way to really study for it, as one question could be about European geography and the next about elements on the periodic table. To succeed at Knowledge Bowl, you need to have a very well-rounded learning base, which is something I see as a priority for education overall.
It’s a great activity for fostering teamwork as well. Each Knowledge Bowl team can consist of up to five members, with all five being able to work on the written round, while only four can compete in oral rounds at a time, with the fifth person switching in or substituting between different rounds. Since the amount of material covered is so broad, teams need to be balanced, often with members specializing in subjects like math and social studies. Coaches and players need to carefully build teams with different strengths and weaknesses in mind.
Rather than any one star player or decisive last-second play or move, Knowledge Bowl is about consistent effort and cooperation between all members of teams, and we sure do that well here in Central Minnesota. At the state meet last week, local teams placed extraordinarily well. Out of 24 teams in the small schools division at State, St. John’s Prep placed seventh, while out of the 24 large schools, my own Sauk Rapids-Rice took seventh, while Sartell-St. Stephen took the title in first place. Considering almost 1,000 total teams from dozens of high schools compete in Knowledge Bowl each year and only 48 make it to State, these placements are even more impressive.
Though we may not always hear about it, Knowledge Bowl is an activity that’s providing great opportunities to students, as well as great publicity for our area. This is because Knowledge Bowl and other academic extracurriculars like Speech and Mock Trial attract students with a passion for learning and growth, and teach them important lessons in teamwork, public speaking and organizational skills. Sports may get a lot of the spotlight, but be sure to pay attention to activities as well. I’m sure glad I did, and my involvement will stick with me for the rest of my life.
Connor Kockler is a Sauk Rapids-Rice High School student. He enjoys writing, politics and news, among other interests.