HARVARD — School sports may make more headlines than scholastic contests, but both are popular activities at The Bromfield School, where students have been participating in LifeSmarts and National Economics Challenge competitions for about a decade.
Steve Besold, who teaches Honors American History and Honors Economics, coaches Junior Varsity and Varsity LifeSmarts teams and an Economics Challenge team at the high school level.
But as he sketched the program and the competition schedule, he downplayed his role as mentor. The spotlight should be on students who participate in the competitions, he said.
Point well taken. These kids are doing some pretty amazing stuff, and having fun, too.
At a couple of recent practice sessions, middle and high school students tackled their respective agendas with the gusto of game show contestants and the savvy of economic experts. The high school economics group delivered speeches with aplomb.
The JV LifeSmarts team exhibited savvy in an array of subjects and some guesswork, too, as nine students practiced for an upcoming state competition. Their student coach, high school senior Ben Waldman, is on the Varsity LifeSmarts team and took on this coaching job as his senior service project.
In synch with the fast-paced “Jeopardy” format, an eclectic array of academic trivia riffed up and down the table. Buzzers sounded as Waldman fired questions, covering a range of categories, including math and science.
The following highlights summarize the practice round.
Q: In the legal category, what word describes proving a will is genuine in court?
Barrage of buzzers, more misses.
Q: What’s the most important criteria when choosing a toy for a small child?
Q. What’s Pertussis?
A: Whooping Cough
It’s a childhood illness, but this “famous” question, no matter how it’s framed, should always elicit the same answer, the coach says.
Q: What kind of insurance pays out, long-term, after an accident or injury?
Q: Where are the sun’s rays strongest?
A: At the equator.
Q: What government agency is responsible for enforcing air quality laws?
A: EPA (Acronym is common, OK to use.)
The student named her source, “The Simpson’s Movie.”
Q: What does AQI mean? (Hint: air pollution.)
A: Air Quality Index.
Q: What’s BMI?
A: Body mass index.
Q: What’s in the nuclear structure of cells?
A: DNA and RNA
They’re on a roll. These kids know their acronyms, with a few notable exceptions.
Q: What does WIC mean? (Hint: Government program.)
A: World Intelligence Center?
A: Women, Infants and Children
Q: Name the largest Federal program, totals 23 percent of government spending.
A: Congress? The military?
A: Social Security.
Excitement ramps up as the game continues. Buzzers blaze. It sounds like an arcade.
But Walden cautions against quick-draws without backup.
“You can’t just buzz, you have to have the answer,” he said.