A group of Oklahoma teenagers recently returned from Florida with scholarships and bragging rights after placing third against nine other teams in a competition that’s more about brains than brawn.
The five team members were part of Team Oklahoma, which brings together some of the brightest high school students from across the state to compete against teams from other states in the National Tournament of Academic Excellence in Orlando.
Oklahoma had a team compete in the conference from 1988 to 2009. The Florida Board of Education cut funding for the competition from 2010 to 2013 but brought it back this year, and Team Oklahoma returned, said Gail Bliss, director of services for the Oklahoma Association for Academic Competition Inc.
This year’s team included Steven Kappen and Yifan Song, who were seniors at Edmond Santa Fe; Bengamin Zhao, a junior at Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics/Edmond Santa Fe; Hunter Antonisse, junior at Choctaw High School; and Finn Bender, a junior at Edmond Memorial.
During the competition, the students were pitted against teams with up to six players and answered questions about math, science, language arts, social studies, the fine arts, languages and technology, according to a press release.
This competition emphasizes science and math, unlike other competitions that focus more on literature and history, Bliss said. Additionally, sometimes the questions are asked in ways that require input from several different knowledge bases.
For instance, students might be asked to take the number of wives King Henry VIII had and multiply that by the atomic mass of chlorine, then divide it by the year the Wright Brother first took flight.
“It’s just a fun way to go and play with what you know,” Bliss said.
For winning third place, each team member will receive a $500 scholarship and a championship ring.
Kappen, who was selected for the All-America team, was awarded a $1,000 scholarship and a crystal trophy, according to the press release.
To try out or learn more
Tryouts for next year’s Team Oklahoma begin in October. Interested students should visit oaac.org for tryout information, Bliss said.
National Tournament of Academic Excellence
2014 competition results
First place: Florida
Second place: Pennsylvania
Third place: Oklahoma
Fourth place: Colorado
Fifth place: Louisiana and Ohio