Knowledge bowl students put their wits to the test

Alexander the Great is second on the list of who conquered the most land in world history at 2.18 million square miles. Which leader, born in 1162, tops the list with 4.86 million square miles?

That’s an example of the type of question students who participate in knowledge bowl face during their meets.
Pipestone Area Schools (PAS) has long offered knowledge bowl as an activity. For around two decades, David Dulas, PAS chemistry and physics teacher, has been the coach.

One of the reasons knowledge bowl members said they enjoy the activity is because it’s a fun way to socialize with others. Pipestone Area Schools has offered the activity for many years and there are 18 students participating this year. Photo by Kyle Kuphal

Dulas compared the activity to the board game Trivial Pursuit. During the meets, three teams meet in a room with teams competing in several rooms. All the teams compete against each other and all teams in every room are asked the same questions. The questions are from a wide variety of topics including history, math, science, literature, English, poetry, geography, art, pop culture and more.

Students buzz in to answer questions and the team that buzzes in first has 15 seconds to discuss the question and give an answer. Answers are provided by a designated spokesperson and points are earned for a correct answer. Dulas said teams are regrouped based on points during the meets.

“If they do really well, they move up,” Dulas said. “If they do really poorly, they move down.”

Those who end up in room number one at the end will compete for first, second and third place.

The senior high knowledge bowl season, for grades nine through 12, begins each year in January and continues through March when the subregional and regional meets are held, and into April when the state meet is held. Dulas said the top half of the teams at subregions advance to regionals and the top three teams at the regional meet advance to the state meet. He said PAS has made it to regionals before, but not to the state meet. He expects at least one team to make it to the regional meet this year.

Students in grades seven, eight and nine can compete in junior high knowledge bowl in the fall.

Dulas said anyone is welcome to join. They do not have to try out. He said students from a variety of backgrounds and with a variety of interests participate in knowledge bowl and that it’s an activity students can participate in even if they’re involved in other activities. Once students get involved, he said, they tend to enjoy it.

Knowledge bowl teams use a green strip like this to buzz in and try to answer questions before other teams do. The questions come from a wide variety of subject areas such as pop culture, math, science, history, art and many more. Photo by Kyle Kuphal

“They get to meet other kids from other schools, so it’s fun for them just to go socialize with kids from other schools,” he said. “I think that’s actually the biggest benefit of it.”
There are 18 students participating in knowledge bowl this year. One of the longest-term members of the team is senior Davina Darveaux, who has participated since seventh grade. She said she joined after her grandpa, Tim Darveaux, and another member of the gymnastics teams told her she should try it.

“I did it and I just kept wanting to do it because it’s kind of fun,” she said.

Darveaux has enjoyed knowledge bowl so much that she’s even recruited other students to join, including her boyfriend and fellow senior Carter Holt, who joined last year. Holt said he felt obligated to join when Darveaux suggested it, but that he’s glad he did. He said knowledge bowl is the first activity he’s been involved in during high school and it’s nice to be part of a group of people who share a common interest.

“I realized I’ve kind of been missing out on being a part of a group,” he said. “I never realized how fun and engaging it is.”

Carter said math and science are his strongest categories and that art and history are the most challenging for him. Darveaux said her strongest category is pop culture and the most challenging for her is history.

Speaking of history, the answer to the question at the top of this story is Genghis Khan.