Academic Super Bowl teams prepare for competitions

By Amber Bartley

Noses buried into large books about Roman history, a group of determined teens prepare to analyze, assess, and review the topics they must cover before the competition.

The Academic Super Bowl history team is sponsored by social studies teacher Donovan Robinson. The event takes place in schools across Indiana.

“It’s an Indiana state run event through the Council of School Principals, so it’s very organized. It’s not something that I’ve put together. We pay a membership due to be a part of it.The area we’re in organizes a qualifier to go onto the next level, then eventually the state level. We’ll do two practice competitions before the big meet in Austin, Indiana in April,” said Robinson.

Robinson said there are five separate subject teams that compete in the Academic Super Bowl and each team sends a member for an interdisciplinary round that includes topics from all academic subjects.

“There’s a history team, an English team, a math team, a science team, and an art team. For the most part, there’s only so much you can do with math, but they try to weave in the topic. There might be some Roman mathematicians, scientists, or writers. Depending on what the theme is, it affects everybody,” said Robinson.

Science teacher Jennifer Gohmann has been sponsoring the Academic Super Bowl science team for eight years. The team is divided up into different studies of science.

“We usually divide in two groups to cover the topics. There’s usually a biology topic, a chemistry topic, a physics topic, and this year there happens to be a volcanology as a separate topic,” said Gohmann.

Math teacher Kim Haley sponsors the math team. She said the students can become upset if they miss a question and the event is competitive.

“A lot of times the students beat themselves up when they miss a question, especially if another team member knew the right answer but was outvoted.  We compete against New Albany and Jeffersonville so that is always competitive, no matter what it is,” said Haley.

Although it is only his first year on the team, sophomore Carson Conley expects to expand his knowledge while spending time with friends.

“I’m expecting to gain a fun way to compete while also being with friends. It was a friend who got me to join the team, and I hope that we can have fun and do well on it together,” said Conley.

Although the groups meet only a few times before the competitions, Robinson said the incentive to study and practice heavily relies on the students. He hopes students will be motivated to research material.

“It [studying] is really a lot of self-motivation on the student. We have books. We’ll stay after and have discussions over what they’ve read. I encourage them to just search things on their own,” said Robinson. “It’s not really another lecture or an extra class. If you’re interested in the topic, then hopefully you will organically seek out information.”

English teacher Matthew Townsend sponsors the Academic Super Bowl English team, which focuses on Roman authors this year. Townsend expects the team to have a deeper understanding of Roman literature.

“I expect them mostly to gain a better understanding of the Roman texts and also just a different experience to do an individual study over these complex texts. It’s better preparing them to look at things individually and look at things in a new light,” said Townsend.

Since it is her third year on the history team,  junior team member Christine Scharrer said she tends not to worry too much about the competitiveness of the event, but learns about the ways other teams cooperate and study together.

“When it comes to competing, I don’t really feel too strongly about beating the other schools. I gain more by seeing all the different schools around Indiana than actually competing. It’s about seeing how all the other students from around the state interact with each other,” said Scharrer.

Scharrer said the knowledge is good to acquire, but she enjoys the experience of the event.

“It’s cool to learn information I never really knew before, and that’s a good feeling to have, but it’s not just about academics. It’s about the experience of going to the Academic Super Bowl.”


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