Students from NTC Claremore’s Pre-Engineering Program traveled to the Tulsa Tech Owasso Campus in late February to compete in the SkillsUSA Quiz Bowl Competition, and one of the NTC teams successfully defended their 2016 title by winning the event again this year.
“The only thing going through my mind when the teams were announced was, ‘Are we first?’” said Tyler Boyer, one of the members of the winning team. “I knew that we had gotten many questions correct, but other teams were starting to catch up with us near the end.”
The Quiz Bowl is one of many SkillsUSA Leadership Development Contests, and the competition is designed to test students’ general academic knowledge, professional development and awareness of current events. Each school is allowed to enter up to three teams of five students with two alternates on each team.
“NTC’s Pre-Engineering Program provides the students with the opportunity to apply the math and science that they have been learning, giving it all meaning,” said Lynn Steidley, one of NTC’s pre-engineering instructors. “The students work collaboratively on projects throughout our program and learn how to be team players, bonding and supporting one another.”
Aside from their studies in the classroom, the students who participate in the SkillsUSA Quiz Bowl must also commit a significant amount of their spare time to preparing for the contest itself.
“We met several times after school to go over dress code, procedures, and to practice answering a variety of questions that could be asked at competition,” Steidley said. “NTC had three teams that entered the competition, and I’m pleased to announce that our teams finished in first, fourth and fifth places.”
SkillsUSA is a national student organization that offers training, career opportunities, scholarships and prizes through annual competitions. Depending on the program, students may compete at regional, state or national levels. The Quiz Bowl contest incorporates concepts from Project Lead the Way (PLTW) courses that heavily emphasize science, technology, engineering and mathematics, also known as STEM.
“To be successful in the Quiz Bowl, students must have a broad understanding of principals and theories for a variety of topics,” Steidley said. “In one question they might have to apply the Pythagorean Theorem or Newton’s laws of motion, and then follow that up with a description of the earth’s composition or explain principles of heredity. Students have to be able to solve problems and articulate their answers in a way the judges will understand and accept, and all that happens in a matter of seconds.”
The Quiz Bowl is divided into two events: Knowledge Performance and Skill Performance. To assess students’ Knowledge Performance, a written test is administered to all team members, including those acting as alternates. In the second portion of the competition – Skill Performance – teams must demonstrate problem-solving, teamwork and time management skills by presenting answers to a panel of judges within a five-second time frame.
“Going into this competition, I would say that I was pretty excited. I'd be lying, however, if I said that I wasn't just a little bit nervous,” said Bryce Goetz of Claremore. “My whole team was completely confident within the academic area of the competition. The professional development area, however, was a totally different story.”
All teams compete at the same time during the Skill Performance portion of the competition. Teams are organized into tables, and each has scratch paper and the all-important buzzer. The moderator asks questions, and the first team to buzz in is allowed five seconds to confer before presenting their answer. Points are earned for each correct answer, and incorrect answers result in a subtraction of points from the team’s score.
“The hardest part is not being able to watch the kids perform,” Steidley said. “I just have to wait and let them tell me how it went. They pulled a trick on me this year and said that they all did terrible. Of course, then I felt terrible, but they were lying to me so it would be a surprise. They knew how well they had done.”
A short time later the winners were named, and it was an NTC team that took home the first place trophy thanks to the efforts of teammates Nathan Beck, Bryce Goetz, Lane Edwards, Ryan Simmons and Tyler Boyer. This team will now go on to represent NTC at the SkillsUSA State Competition April 23-25.
“It feels great to win back-to-back titles,” said student Ryan Simmons. “To better prepare for state this year, we will be focusing on the professional development questions during our study sessions."
NTC’s two other teams also had strong showings, both finishing among the top five. In fourth place were NTC students Maria Collins, Aiden Bainbridge, Jason Barnes, Chase McDonald and Sara Shaw. The fifth place team was composed of teammates Maya Rhoades, Josh Butler, Corbin Crockett, Luke McComb and Brett Behm.