Monday, October 5, 2009

High schoolers beat Observer - sort of

I sit next to Observer county government reporter April Bethea. She's a quiet soul, but on Thursday she was quieter than usual. After my harassing prodding, April confessed: she was nervous.

She was one of more than a dozen Observer employees participating in Are You Smarter Than A Middle Schooler?. It was a fundraiser for Partners in Out-of-School Time (POST) at CenterStage in NoDa on Thursday. The event raised $15,000 for the after-school program serving students at Coulwood, Albemarle Road, Quail Hollow and James Martin middle schools.

Before the contest, April worried she'd embarrass herself in front of the big dogs – publisher Ann Caulkins, editor Rick Thames and managing editor Cheryl Carpenter. Plus, April wanted the Observer team to win. How would we look losing to teams comprised of high school students? Well, they were really smart high school students.

But still. We have our Big O pride.

I'm happy to report April didn't embarrass herself. Unfortunately, the two official Observer teams didn't win. Editorial page associate editor Mary Newsom, however, was on The Breakfast of Champions. That team, which included high schoolers, shared first place with the Lee Institute’s The Leeders.

During three rounds, teams answered questions on math, science, social studies and language from across the middle school curriculum. Among them:

Jumbo shrimp is an example of what grammatical term?
Answer: Oxymoron

Where in North Carolina did Babe Ruth hit his first home run?
Answer: Fayetteville

Everyone played nicely, but things got rowdy over a math question.

Bella gave 1/6 of her candy to Jacob, 1/4 of her candy to Alice and 1/2 of her candy to Edward. If she had 14 pieces of candy left how many did she have at the beginning?

A lot of people answered 168. Organizers said 48.

Chaos ensued, chicken wings were thrown and contestants stormed out angrily. (Not really.) Observer editorial page editor Taylor Batten, who knows politics and math, explained the 168.

1/2 + 1/4 + 1/6 = 11/12
She had 1/12 left.
So 14 pieces was 1/12 of what she had originally.
14 x 12 = 168.

Got it? Me either, which is why I wasn't on the team, but you can be. The event exceeded POST's goal by $5,000. POST President Claire Tate said the organization plans to make the trivia contest an annual event.
So, start studying.
Get involved

To learn more about POST, including volunteer opportunities: 704-376-1845 or


tarhoosier said...

48 is incorrect at a glance. 168 is right. How can the organizers have such a simple question be so wrong.

Chrissy said...

I am an algebra teacher. Either the problem was not worded correctly (they left out some info) or they are incorrect. Let x = the total candy she started with. The equation would be x - x/6 - x/4 - x/2 = 14. The correct answer is 168.

In your solution, you took 1/6 off the total, then 1/4 off of what remained, then 1/2 (-1) off of what remained. The problem is not worded this way, so your solution is incorrect (sorry!!) but creative!