Thursday, January 1, 2004

Knowledge game played on local TV



By Denise Smith Amos
The Cincinnati Enquirer

UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS - A Cincinnati high school teacher, unimpressed by what her students were watching on television, designed a game to encourage teens to get ready for college entrance tests.

Barbara Jones' game became a quiz show called Knowledge Quest. It pits teams from local high schools who answer questions like those found on college entrance exams.

The show's first three episodes will air Friday and Sunday on Channel 48.

Jones, 45, is an English teacher with a bachelor's degree in radio and TV broadcasting. At the High School for the Communications Professions at Hughes Center, she devised the game more than a year ago.

At first, she simulated the quiz show milieu with PowerPoint, a projector and a few TV tap lights. Students stood at lecterns in front of class and picked randomly from math, English, social studies and science questions.

"I saw a tiny enthusiasm there, a will to want to do work," Jones said.

Eventually she videotaped a few games in the school's TV studio, with students operating the cameras and directing. WCET saw a tape, and with a $30,000 grant from the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, collaborated on the first televised show, taped on Nov.19.

The set resembled a youthful version of Jeopardy! with professional-looking backdrops, a jazzy musical intro and a student-designed logo. The host, Sonia Koschoreck, is a College-Conservatory of Music student who wore a denim shirt and a wide smile.

The teams of four students each came from Hughes Center, Withrow University School, Oak Hills High and Fayetteville High School in Brown County.

"I thought it would be a uniting factor, to unite schools from urban and rural areas," Jones said. "I think it helps everybody see all kids as kids, all pushing to one goal, which is to learn."

The schools brought their own cheering sections. Oak Hills' boys wore kilts to display their school's Scottish Highlander tradition.

The first game wasn't without glitches. One team was given points for an incorrect answer, but it didn't affect the outcome.

The teams competed playoff style, with students allowed to consult with teammates and, if necessary, sacrifice points to use reference books and the Internet to seek answers. The game penalizes teams with lost points for guessing incorrectly, but a team that admits it is "stumped in the quest for knowledge" doesn't lose points.

"I was kind of nervous," said Xavier Reynolds, 16, a Hughes junior from North Avondale. "I felt like our chance of winning was as slim as winning the million-dollar lottery."

That changed when Xavier was asked to define "supercilious." It had been a Word of the Day on one of Xavier's favorite Web sites. He answered correctly and, eventually, his team won.

WCET plans another contest and taping for March.

Speed and accuracy count

Teams have four members. Two are "quick-recall" answerers and two are study-table "researchers." Halfway through, they switch places.

The team with the most points after timed play wins.

Sample questions

1. "Which of the following ratio is equal to 2:3?"

• A) 4: 9

• B) 16:24

• C) 25:45

• D) 1:2

The correct answer is B.

2. "Immutable is to change as ...."

• A) hermetic is to speak

• B) fallow is to halt

• C) invective is to insult

• D) inexorable is to relent

The correct answer is D.

E-mail damos@enquirer.com




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