Great Minds think aloud at Oct. 5 Quiz Bowl

Trivia night (PHOTO: TechCrunch, Flickr CC)

If you were like me, and for the sake of your social life I hope you weren’t, you were part of your high school Knowledge Bowl team. It goes by different names in different places, but here in Minnesota we call it Knowledge Bowl.

Being from the Iron Range, our knowledge bowl tournaments were held at the VoTech school in Eveleth. Three teams sat at three tables facing a rubbery green pressure strip used to “buzz in” after a judge asks trivia questions. The strips were hooked into old school green-and-black screen Apple computers running a scorekeeping program. You might think I’m describing old technology because I am “old,” but I’ve heard these devices were still in use well into the 2010s. For all I know they’re still out there, manhandled by a third generation of nerdy competitors.

The judge asked questions on a wide variety of academic and cultural topics. Correct answers earned points. The team with the most points advanced. Eventually, the best three teams faced off in a final round. Victory vindicated the work of the long suffering teachers back at school. Defeat still got you out of school for the day.

Teams looked like “The Breakfast Club” if that movie only had variations of the Anthony Michael Hall nerd character. Schools would run several teams, each representing a strategic grouping of mixed savants. I was the literature and history specialist on Cherry 1. One guy could do math. Another guy knew science. We had one guy who was the only person in our school who knew binary code, which was good for a hard-to-get point at least once or twice per tournament.

Anyway, I think most people have played a game like Trivial Pursuit before. Maybe you’ve yelled answers at the screen when “Jeopardy!” was on. But doing trivia as a team emphasized the power of the many to outsmart even the brainiest individual. Our team never won the championship, but we did win the judge’s choice for best teamwork. It was an engraved metal plaque affixed to a finished piece of particle board. We ran back to the bus waiving the prize triumphantly only to see one of us awkwardly drop the award, roll it on its corners until they were all ground to splinters.

Well, you can relive these glory days. Great Minds Learning Center in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, is holding a Quiz Bowl fundraiser on Thursday, Oct. 5 at the Blandin Foundation conference center. Great Minds is a nonprofit that offers tutoring services for school aged children, specializing in helping those with reading or learning disabilities. They use the funds to keep the cost of tutoring as low as possible and to offer scholarships for those in need. My wife Christina works for Great Minds and I can attest they do amazing things for kids who sometimes fall through the cracks.

And, drumroll, I’ll be emceeing the Quiz Bowl on Oct. 5. So you’ll have my usual antics to entertain you along the way.

So get a team together or come alone or in a smaller group and we’ll put you on a team. It’s $20 per person with a chance to win fabulous prizes. We’re trying to make this a fun tradition for trivia buffs who also support educational help for kids with learning and reading disabilities.

Here are the details:

Great Minds Learning Center Quiz Bowl

Thursday, October 5, 2017
Blandin Foundation
100 N. Pokegama Ave., Grand Rapids
Check in 5 p.m. to 5:45 p.m.

Trivia Battle begins at 6 p.m.
Teams of 6 people
Cost $20/person

Don’t have a team? Sign up as an individual and we’ll find you teammates. This is a family-friendly event. Participants will show their trivia savvy in teams of 6 in a fun competition hosted by local radio and newspaper personality Aaron J. Brown.

Fun Trivia, Silent Auction, Snacks, Prizes!

Register here

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