Big brains on AHS campus take first | AspenTimes.com

Big brains on AHS campus take first

Jennifer Davoren
Aspen Times Staff Writer

The Aspen School District’s sports teams aren’t the only ones picking up trophies this year.

In the past month, two of the district’s competitive academic teams picked up top honors at regional contests that put their knowledge to the test.

The Aspen High School Knowledge Bowl team, made up of AHS juniors Sean Braisted, Maggie Roth, David Rodman and Andy Trautner, took first place during an April 12 meet. The win finished off the Knowledge Bowl season nicely, said team adviser and AHS math teacher Ian Wagner.

“We’ve actually done very well – we’ve won six trophies in the last five years,” Wagner said.

Knowledge Bowl meets test students on a variety of subjects. A meet involves a series of written and oral exams that pit students against their peers from other schools. Teams start with a written multiple-choice test that will help judges group three teams of equal strengths together. These teams then face three more rounds of competition. In the second, third and fourth rounds, students complete a sort of oral exam that will help them move up in rank and even move up to compete against stronger teams.

“After the first round, they’re competing with buzzers,” Wagner said. “Every round they update the scores and move you around. Actually, one of the strategies is to place yourself in a room where the competition is little.”

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The four members of the AHS team, cut down from a total of 15 kids who participate in Knowledge Bowl each year, faced six rooms of 18 competitors in the April 12 meet. A high score on their first test allowed them to remain in the top two rooms for a more difficult line of questioning.

The junior version of the Knowledge Bowl team, the Aspen Middle School Brain Bowl team, topped eight other local schools last week to win first place in its annual trivia competition. The 12 fifth-graders – Aaron Poh, Paul Jung, Whit Parker, Lindsay Wilkenson, Scott Lacy, Dane Kornasiewicz, Taylor VanZyl, Alex Smith, Nicky Byrne, Alisondra Maykranz, Jarreau Mathys and Chelsea Hanle – give up one lunch period each week to prepare for the one contest they participate in all year, but the work paid off in the group’s first major win, said team adviser Georgina Rumsey.

The AMS team, coached by Rumsey and volunteer parents Lisa Kane and Beth Haggerty, battled valley schools as well as competitors from Silt and Eagle for the win. Eight of the 12 students served on the winning team, working together to work out answers.

Brain Bowl kids work with just about every academic area they use in school – science, math, language arts, literature and social studies, to name a few – for a different sort of challenge than they might face in class, Rumsey said.

“They’re motivated and really wanted to do it,” she said of the team. “They’re very dedicated to it – they really like trivia.”