Brain Bowl Leads to Both Fun and Frustration

By: Claire Bryant 

The week of October 11th, the Upper School took part in one of our most sacred traditions: Homecoming Week. On Thursday, October 14th, Class Competition Day occurred, including one of the most competitive events: Brain Bowl. Every year, Brain Bowl uses a Jeopardy format to showcase the school’s best minds. This year the school watched over WebEx as each grade level competed to correctly answer the most questions to earn the most points.  

Here’s how the game works: players can gain between 100 and 500 points per question, depending on the difficulty. If a team answers incorrectly, they lose that same amount of points. There were two rounds, each including different questions from various categories. One of the categories, matching teachers with their childhood photos, seemed to be a crowd-pleaser. Senior Wade LeCain said, “It was quite intriguing to see some of the Shorecrest staff in their youth. Yes, it [was] sometimes comedic, yet it also served as a reminder to how the teachers of Shorecrest were once in our shoes.”

  “Guess That Mascot” was another fun category. Junior participant Caleb Perez liked that category the most, saying “I love sports, and I got the Philly Phanatic question correct.” 

The questions were read aloud by Dean Hardy, and the teams had to click the buzzer as fast as they could. Whoever clicked the buzzer first got to answer the question. The buzzer aspect of the game caused a lot of tension and competitiveness. Some students clicked the buzzer too quickly, which resulted in Dean Hardy rereading the question from the beginning, inciting frustration from all participants. Overall, the buzzers proved to be very problematic. Perez feels the juniors “would have won if it weren’t for the buzzer clicking being lagged.” He also blamed their loss on the Final Jeopardy question, during which the juniors lost many of their points on a wrong answer. LeCain thought, “Brain Bowl this year ended up being more about who was quickest to the buzzer, rather than who could score the most points based on their knowledge.” He also added, “It was irksome how other classes would sometimes get away with buzzing early. I do suppose that they experienced the same annoyance with us.”

Tension had already been high before the competition even began due to a  last-minute change in the rules. In the past, Brain Bowl teams were allowed to have five players competing. During this year’s Brain Bowl, this rule changed to allowing only four students to play at a time. This last-minute change upset many of the students. When the organizers decided to change this rule to a four-person team, many were devastated. This resulted in some people being left out, which impacted teams’ strategies. With so many players disgruntled, the students were able to convince the organizers to allow a five-person team for the final round, to which senior Harry Summer said, “was what should have happened in the first place, and I’m glad they let us.”

Senior Stella Pagano led the charge to change the rules back. She intervened at the halfway point of the competition to mediate for the other players. Pagano said, “I got a lot of complaints from those participating in Brain Bowl, especially from those who were only doing that event. Before the next round, I voiced my concern to Ms. Alexander, and also talked to Dean Hardy about bringing a fifth person in to participate, and they both agreed that it was fair to do this.”

After multiple questions and two rounds, the results of the 2021 Homecoming Brain Bowl were as follows: 

Half-time results…

  • First place: Seniors with 2600 points. 
  • Second place: Freshmen with 1200 points.
  • Third place: Juniors with 600 points.
  • Last place: Sophomores with 400 points.

Final results… 

  • First place: Seniors with 4500 points. 
  • Second place: Juniors with 1099 points
  • Third place: Sophomores and Freshmen both with 0 points.

The sophomore and senior teams during the competition. (Photo by Claire Bryant) 

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