Blair's It's Academic! team recently placed third in the world in the Knowledge Master Open tournament.
The Blair team finished behind Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Virginia and Dunbar High School in Lexington, Kentucky. 858 teams from across the country, as well as several from foreign nations such as Poland and China, participated in the tournament.
In the Knowledge Master Open, students answer 200 questions from a computer program run off disks distributed by an educational software company. The tournament used a scoring system in which a question answered correctly within seven seconds counting 10 points, with the point total decreasing as the time increased. If a question was answered incorrectly, a team had 60 seconds to give a second answer for two points.
To have their scores for the tournament count, teams had to participate on December 4. This date allowed Blair to compete during the delayed opening for the Maryland Functional Writing Test.
Team members strong in math were assigned roles to plug in numbers on math questions, and senior Jared Sagoff assumed the captaincy position. As captain, Sagoff sorted through the numerous answers people were generating and selected a final answer to enter into the computer program.
The team began the official questions at 7:45 and started strong, but ran into some difficulties toward the 100th question. The team was forced to answer several questions on the second chance, which according to senior Matt Baron, threatened to damper the spirits of the team. "We knew we should've gotten the questions right,"said Baron.
Blair bounced back after taking a five minute timeout, one of three allowed, at the 100 question mark. After the timeout, Baron took over as captain in an effort to add some freshness, but Baron and Sagoff switched again during the 173rd question.
During the second half Blair continued on its pace that it held for most of the first half, but the day's efforts almost went for naught after computer difficulties arose during the 181st question. An error message proclaiming, "Windows cannot read from drive A:" flashed across the screen, but the team was able to correct the problem after co-sponsor David Swaney called event organizers, who told Swaney how to solve the problem.
After fixing the problem, the team quickly finished the remaining 20 questions. Blair ended with 1701 points, with 22 questions answered on the second chance and 196 questions correct overall out of 200. The team soon found out that Jefferson had finished with 1736 points and later that Dunbar had finished with 1710, putting Blair in third.
The team was very pleased with its third place finish. Baron said that he had feared the team would not be able to do as well as last year's team due to the loss of key seniors, but that new members did very well. "We've lost a lot of good people, so we relying on a lot of new people," he said.
Co-sponsor Phyllis Fleischaker was also impressed by the team's performance. "The intensity they are able to generate is amazing," she said. She also said that she was pleased to see the team was able to work so well together.
Branden Buehler. Branden Buehler is a senior in the magnet program. When he is not doing schoolwork, work for Silver Chips Online, or swimming for the Blair swim team, he could possibly be found playing foosball or playing his guitar and recording songs in a futile attempt … More »