Our fourth blog-a-thon entry comes from Eddie Flaherty, with the Maine Geographic Alliance. What exactly is a geography bowl? Find out below in this humorous first-time account!
Having never previously been around a geography conference, I
was awfully startled when asked if I could facilitate the geography bowl.
“The geography what?”, I said in confusion. Little did I know that
included in the New England-St. Lawrence Valley Geographical Society (NESTVAL)
Conference that was held at the University of Maine Farmington, would be one of
the most epic geography bowls I have ever seen (okay, maybe it was my first).
The fierce competition included the University of Connecticut, Salem State
University, Bridgewater State University (who brought the EarthView to UMF), University of New
Hampshire, Clark University, and Plymouth State University.
Pictured here are from left to right: Matthew
McCourt, Paul Frederic, Brad Dearden
For those of you, like myself, who may be unaware of what goes on at a geography bowl, check out this Geography Bowl Question from a different competition. As you can see, it gets pretty intense…
As for the judges, they were selected for their extensive knowledge in everything that is geography. As you can tell, they are a pretty menacing bunch. It was also interesting to see them laugh and chuckle about the questions and the responses that all of the students had.
As everyone arrived for the competition, most schools seemed to be pretty nervous for the event. Because these events are only held twice a year, and the regions generally compete with the same schools each time (not quite the Ohio State and Michigan rivalry, but you get the point). So as usual, these school were ready to either reclaim glory or establish themselves as premier geography bowlers. Prior to getting started, I was very curious as to what kind of questions these students would be receiving. In the back of my mind, I figured they’d be “where is this on the map” or “where’s Waldo?”. Little did I know, questions would range from international currency to questions about geothermal energy.
As you can see, everyone was on edge before the competition
(not really). Just to make sure everyone had enough brain food, we made sure
there was enough pizza to feed an entire geography bowl army.
As the Geography Bowl began, everyone switched their brains
from what type of pizza they would indulge in, to geography, geography,
geography. While some teams had coaches that were helping them along with the
process, others just had teachers there to be moral support. Some had a teams
of just four members while others had a alternate competitors that would switch
in and out during the rounds of competition. All of the teams gathered in the
main auditorium to discuss rules and regulations, and as soon as everyone was
clear on what what going to happen, the competition was on!
As you can see, things got pretty crazy during these
competitions. The bowl consisted of four rounds, with the top two teams
advancing to the finals. Just like an academic decathlon or family feud,
members of the team could press their respective button to answer a question.
And by all accounts, buttons were being pushed left and right!
All in all, my first Geography Bowl was a rather exciting
one. Games came down to the last question, players were screaming and yelling,
and above all else—everyone had fun. Even though I consider myself a smart
person, I couldn’t believe how intelligent some of these students were. As my
eyes would start to cross when thinking about the answer to a particular
question, most of them were clicking their buttons and answering it as if the
question was “what’s 2+2?”
Coming away from the competition, I
learned a lot and had a blast watching the competition unfold (as did everyone
else who participated). But even in geography, there are winners and there are
losers, so here it is—congratulations to the Clark University Geography Bowl
Team for their victory over Salem State University in the University of Maine
Farmington Geography Bowl!
Find the original blog and more on the Maine Geographic Alliance here.