The Nerd Herd

by Morgan Flottmeier  PAW Writer

Do you like trivia and knowledge? Do your friends call you nerdy? Are you also competitive and driven? If any of these statements accurately describes you, then perhaps you have what it takes to be a member of Quiz Bowl.

What exactly is Quiz Bowl? According to the National Academic Quiz Tournaments (NAQT) Quiz Bowl is, “A competitive, academic, interscholastic activity for which players attend periodic practices and then represent their school at varsity tournaments.” Of course, this is a fairly general definition. Yes, Quiz Bowl is essentially a competition based on knowledge. However, it is a bit more complicated, and a lot more fun, than it may sound at first.

A regular Quiz Bowl game or match pits two teams, usually from different schools, against each other in a battle of intellect. The teams must have a minimum of three members and a maximum of four members playing at one time, however, teams may have substitute members that can rotate in. Each member on the team must answer questions as an individual. The match consists of one nine minute half and one six minute half. The first half begins with twelve questions from any subject area which are called “toss-ups”. These are quick, moderately easy questions to get both teams warmed up and ready to go. After toss-ups, there are toss-ups with bonuses. This means that if an individual member on the team answers the toss-up question correctly, their team, and only their team, will get three bonus questions to answer together. At the end of the first nine minutes, there is a lightning round. Whichever team is losing at the half gets to pick questions from one of three topics. They will then attempt to answer ten questions on that topic in one minute. After the minute is over, the other team will have thirty seconds to answer any of the remaining questions. Then that team will pick from the remaining two topics and the same procedure will follow. The last six minutes are filled with toss-ups and bonuses. At the end of the second half, whichever team has the most points, wins. Ten points are awarded for every question answered correctly. If a player answers a question correctly before enough of it has been read, they will receive an extra five points which are called powers.

A regular season meet consist of four of these matches. There are three regular meets in each of the four divisions of high schools per season. At the end of the season, the top four teams in each division will advance to Nationals, which are held in Chicago.

All of these rules may seem confusing, but as soon as one starts playing, it becomes easy and fun! Of course, the only way to learn the game and become a trivia master, is to practice! The Providence Academy Quiz Bowl team practices three times a week with their coach Mr. Kevin Keiser. Practices simulate a regular game with members playing against each other. Occasionally, there will be presentations on certain subjects that the team is weak on.

So far, this may all seem pretty dry and boring. Why would anyone deliberately sign up for such a club? Well, Quiz Bowl is a competition based on knowledge. Not only is it fun to play on a team of similar individuals against other competitive teams, as it is in any sport or game, but it’s also especially fun to out-smart people. For those of you with Trivia Crack addiction, you can probably relate to this. Quiz Bowl allows all the nerds out there a chance to face each other and test their intellect. At Quiz Bowl, being a nerd is something to be proud of. Mr. Keiser notes, “We live in the age of the nerd. All around us, we are confronted with nerds who basically run, in some cases, even control our lives with our willing participation.  Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are pretty nerdy.  In the end, nerds are the only ones who can recognize this and think outside the box that other nerds have created for them.  Only the nerd is free!”

Mr. Keiser perfectly encapsulates the essence of Quiz Bowl and what is needed to be a member in the following statement: “Do you love factual knowledge? Do you have so much information in your head and simply cannot find the opportunity to show it off? Or DO you show it off and notice that your friends start avoiding you? Then Quiz Bowl is the club for you! We do not shun you, we want you! In the PA Quiz Bowl teams, you will find like-minded know-it-alls to meet with regularly in a competitive atmosphere. Two or three practices a week provide the scene for exciting game-play and the chance to build up your trivial mental recall muscles. Then, face local and statewide opponents in tournament competitions to put Providence Academy on the map of competitive quizzing!”

So, for all of you fellow nerds itching to compete, test your knowledge, and learn new things, perhaps Quiz Bowl is the place for you. Finally, check out some sample Quiz Bowl questions below to see if you have what it takes!


How Nerdy Are You?

Here are ten Quiz Bowl toss-up questions for you to try!


  1. This is a general term for substances in several states of matter that cannot sustain shear stress in equilibrium; Pascal’s law and Bernoulli’s principle are studied in the physics subfield know as its “mechanics.” Gases and liquids are what kind of material that flows?


  1. This politician carried out a catastrophic speaking tour called the “Swing Around the Circle.” His removal of Secretary of War Edwin Stanton violated the Tenure of Office Act, resulting in his 1868 impeachment. What Tennessean became president after Lincoln’s assassination?


  1. Pencil and paper ready. Adam needs to compute his average cost per apple. On Monday, he bought 4 apples at 10 cents per apple, while on Tuesday he bought 5 apples at 28 cents each. By dividing the total cost by the total number of apples, he computes what average price?


  1. This poem’s title character is saved by Life-in-Death during a dice game. That character tells his tale to a Wedding Guest and recalls being “As idle as a painted ship / Upon a painted ocean.” A sailor is cursed for killing an albatross in what Samuel Taylor Coleridge “rime”?


  1. This monarch appointed William Laud as Archbishop of Canterbury and controversially attempted to collect a Ship Tax from inland towns. This king’s forces lost the Battle of Naseby to the New Model Army. James I was succeeded by what Stuart king of England beheaded in 1649?


  1. This work is narrated by a passenger on the Nellie, who is waiting for the tide on the Thames River. Central to the story is an ivory trader whose last words are “The horror! The horror!”. Marlow meets Kurtz in what novella set on a journey up the Congo by Joseph Conrad?


  1. The Selenga River flows north out of this country into the land of the Buryat people. Przewalski’s horse has been reintroduced into this country, where Bactrian camels live in the Gobi Desert. Ulan Bator is the capital of what Asian nation between Russia and China?


  1. This initiative was described as a “death sentence” to Indian heritage, and it triggered the Zapatista uprising in Chiapas. George H. W. Bush, Brian Mulroney of Canada, and Carlos Salinas of Mexico all signed what 1992 “agreement” establishing a continental free trade bloc?


  1. This composer used a German ballad as the basis of his cantata The Black Knight. A “hidden theme” connects his Enigma Variations, while “Land of Hope and Glory” is part of a work often played at graduations. Name this British composer of the Pomp and Circumstance marches.


  1. One version of this technique is named after Karl Fischer. It used bromothymol blue and similar indicators to determine when the equivalence point has been reached. An unknown concentration can be measure with what chemistry technique using burettes?






  1. fluid
  2. Andrew Johnson
  3. 20 cents
  4. The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
  5. Charles I
  6. Heart of Darkness
  7. Mongolia
  8. NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement)
  9. Sir Edward William Elgar
  10. titration