Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Knowledge Bowl

Each year the 3rd and 4th graders in our school district compete against each other in a Knowledge Bowl. The kids who want to participate, divide into teams of five and spend months of their own time studying a specific subject. Then, on a Saturday in March they gather from schools all over the district to compete in the Knowledge Bowl. When we heard that the subject this year was geography we knew that Neal needed to be a part of a team.

For Neal's second birthday he picked out a talking puzzle map of the United States of America for his present. Within weeks not only could he finish the puzzle, he could correctly answer any of the state capitals. A few months later he wanted to look at the large map of the world I had purchased for a Primary activity. Every day, he asked me to get it out and he would spend hours asking me to identify countries (I had hours to do that, back then). I got tired of rolling it back up and stuffing it back in the tube so I finally tacked the map to the wall by his bed. It has remained on his bedroom wall ever since. If you knew Neal back then, you will surely remember his near-obsession with maps (he does come by it honestly--Utah Dad keeps an atlas by the toilet and another one under the bed).

It wasn't long before Neal discovered the large World Atlas. The first fifty pages were about space and he asked me and anyone else to read it to him. At first I tried explaining the various features in simple language, but he would protest, "read the big words." Fortunately for me, he was reading the big words by himself by the time he was three years old. He requested and received a globe for his third birthday. (He wanted a microscope when he turned four and we insisted that he get a bike when he turned five.)

So, obviously the kid had an advantage.

His team studied and practiced during lunch once a week at school and at a teammate's home on some Saturdays. Because he practically refused to let us quiz him at home and had opted to ski instead of attend some of the Saturday practices, I really didn't know what to expect when we arrived at the junior high school last Saturday.

Utah Dad gave him one piece of advice before the matches began: just have fun. And I think he really had a good time. During the first match, his team seemed tentative to hit their buzzers and they were falling behind the opponents. I saw Neal glance up at the score board. Then, there was no stopping him. He answered question after question correctly. He won the first match single handed. Fortunately, during the next matches the other kids on his team started answering questions as well. Together, they won the other three matches.

Neal was having so much fun. I didn't realize that he had such a competitive spirit. After years of watching him halfheartedly play soccer and other sports, I was so pleased that he could have his moment to shine.

To protect the integrity of the questions used, we couldn't use any recording devices during the matches but his team posed for pictures following their final match.


Mark2 said...

We blame him for killing our daughter's team. We figure the rest of his team could have gone to lunch and he still would have beaten them on his own. He did a good job.

Ammon and Jen said...

Go Neal! I think it is great that he is so interested in stuff like that. You must be doing the "mom thing" right. :)

Anonymous said...

It's always nice to hear about smart kids. Congrats to Neal! My own is pretty smart too, but school supplies and educational materials are super pricey. Do you guys use screamincoupons?

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