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Board members get hard lesson

They are no match for Hernando County's Brain Bowl competitors.

By TOM MARSHALL, Times Staff Writer
Published January 31, 2008


BROOKSVILLE - There comes a moment in life when children surpass their elders. For the Hernando County School Board, that moment came on Monday at 4 p.m.

Faced with an all-county team of teenage Brain Bowl champs in a battle of wits, the board got thumped. Badly.

Board member Sandra Nicholson dropped the first question, about a Jules Verne novel featuring a volcano. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea?" she ventured.

Nope, said judge Mary Krabel, try Journey to the Centre of the Earth. It was mostly downhill from there.

How much power, exactly, in 300 joules of work performed for 30 seconds? The kids hit their buzzer: 10 watts.

Who wrote Jude the Obscure? Thomas Hardy, of course.

What was that famous battle pitting the Nazis and the Soviet Union? Stalingrad, the teens shouted, before the question was fully asked.

Board members had a few proud moments. Nicholson aced a question involving compound verbs, and former social studies teacher Jim Malcolm was all over a multipart teaser on 20th century leaders.

But the kids dominated the math and science questions. Springstead student Tara McMahon whizzed through the prime factorization of 2023 7 x 17 x 17 and Kindo Lee handled one on the characteristics of electromagnetic waves with ease.

Asked to classify a list of chemicals by their bond types, superintendent Wayne Alexander puffed out his cheeks and called for a lifeline. Alas, there weren't any.

The final score on Monday: kids 254, adults 85.

The high school team will be headed to the all-state competition on April 10 in Orlando.

Asked whether the board was as tough as other high school teams she'd faced, McMahon was diplomatic.

"Not quite," she said with a smile.

Tom Marshall can be reached at tmarshall@sptimes.com or (352) 584-5537.