A group of nine Middle School students will test their mettle this weekend as St. Michaels University School participates in the World Scholar’s Cup competition for the first time ever.
The academically inclined group has been cramming this week for the one-day event that covers a wide range of subjects, including science, history, literature, arts and social studies.
Middle School teacher Ms. Catherine Cade only found out about the competition two weeks ago, but when she presented the opportunity to students, there was a group eager enough to participate on short notice.
“I think that really speaks to who these kids are. The World Scholar’s Cup website recommends two to eight weeks to prepare for it, and these students knew they had less than two weeks and they still really wanted to go for the experience,” Catherine says.
“We all know this is our first go at it, so we’re doing it for fun,” says Grade 8 student Paris I.
What is for certain, though, is the World Scholar’s Cup is a pretty intense day-long competition.
The event features four different rounds that test students’ skills in public speaking, critical thinking, teamwork, reading comprehension and knowledge retention. Students are divided into teams of three and work together to compete.
The four rounds are:
- Team Debate – Teams get 15 minutes to research and prep for three different debates, the specific subjects of which could be literature- or science-related;
- Scholar’s Bowl – Teams work together to solve progressively harder questions in this live trivia game;
- Collaborative Writing – Teams get to debate using the written word. While there is some prep time together, team members will then have to each write a persuasive essay on a different topic;
- Scholar’s Challenge – Each team member is on their own for this multiple choice exam that spans all the subjects and all the topics.
Students don’t go into the World Scholar’s Cup completely blind. They know that the theme of this year’s event is “An Imperfect World” and they’re all provided a huge list of recommended reading material or topics to study – from the Japanese mafia and the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic to Victor Vasnetov’s Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and the failure of the Weimar Republic.
“It just sounds like a really fun opportunity that involves a lot of different skill sets that are pretty essential, like public speaking, debate and collaborative writing. And it’s going to be a fun opportunity to apply those skills in a fun competition scenario,” says Grade 8 student Amelia H. “It’s a little nerve-wracking not knowing if we’re going to be debating literature or writing about it, for example, so you have to have an open mindset when you’re studying.”
“It’s going to be a unique experience because there are so many aspects packed into one tournament,” adds Seung C.
Paris, Amelia and Seung all say they’ve enjoyed studying a wide range of topics, and are looking forward to coming away from the experience having gained some new knowledge and firsthand experience testing their academic skill set.
“I decided this would be a really good improvement opportunity. I’ve never really debated before, so I’m looking forward to having that experience,” Paris says.
The event takes place Saturday at Brentwood College. World Scholar’s Cup regional competitions take place in more than 40 countries around the world, involving thousands of talented students. The event culminates in a Global Round, which takes place in Thailand in June, followed by a Tournament of Champions event at Yale University in November.
Good luck to all of our Middle School scholars!