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Winter 2009

Trivia Wise

trivia.jpgDid you know that acetylsalicylic acid is more commonly known as aspirin? That actress Kirsten Dunst shared her first onscreen kiss with Brad Pitt? That Houston's Major League Soccer team is called the Dynamo, which is also the name of a brand of laundry detergent? These and other little-known facts were center stage at the school's annual trivia night held by the Office of Student Affairs in October. Teams of students, faculty, and staff gathered in the Gutman Conference Center to prove that they could outshine the others when it came to random, useless knowledge.

Competitors faced questions covering topics from celebrity marriages to board games to astronomy. Education appeared as a category only once, when teams were asked to identify 10 movies related to teaching, given the year and the names of two actors. The correct answers included recent films like Mona Lisa Smile as well as throwbacks like The Principal, and the task proved more challenging than many expected.

Teams could not rely solely on their factual knowledge, either; a picture round required them to label photos of 20 well-known redheads. Duchess Sarah "Fergie" Ferguson, '80s pop star Rick Astley, and Daphne of Scooby-Doo fame were among the chosen gingers.

Some teams tried to increase their chances of victory by strategizing ahead of time. "We felt confident going into this event after having practiced at a recent work event," says Programs in Professional Education finance assistant Todd Thomas, whose team was comprised of Ed School staff. Another team, consisting of Visiting Lecturer Bruno della Chiesa and the students in his course, Learning in a Globalized World: Scenario Planning, Brain Research, and Linguistic Diversity, hoped that their team's age and ethnic diversity would give them the ability to answer a wider range of questions. (It is not clear, however, that any strategy -- other than cheating -- really worked.)

Not all teams took the event so seriously; some came out just to have a good time with their classmates or coworkers. "Even if we don't win, we win for best team name," commented one School Leadership Program -- or SLP -- student, whose team called itself the Sexy Leaders Posse. "And the food is really good," her teammate added. An assortment of finger foods and a cash bar complemented the evening's fun.

The competition ended with the student team Soul Glow on top and each member of the team going home with a pair of movie passes. "Overall, I think that the night was a huge success," said student activities coordinator Kevin Boehm, Ed.M.'07, who moderated the event. "I think that we had a great turnout and that all of the teams, both student and staff, were excited."

-- Harvard undergraduate Amanda Dagg was on the Not Above Cheating team. They did not win; they may or may not have cheated. For the record, she did know that acetylsalicylic acid is aspirin.