Academic World Quest competition debuts

TRAVERSE CITY — Pop quiz. 1) What's the only country to spend more per student on education than the U.S.? 2) Between 2006 and 2010, did the number of cars in China drop, stay the same, triple, or increase tenfold? 3)Which Middle Eastern country is the United States' largest trading partner?

You probably had a hard time coming up with 1) Luxembourg, 2) triple and 3) Saudi Arabia. But Elk Rapids High School junior Noah Moothart wouldn't.

Moothart is a member of Elk Rapids' Academic WorldQuest team. He and his three teammates are spending the winter immersed in world affairs, preparing to face five other area high schools in the region's first Academic WorldQuest competition, set for March 19 in Milliken Auditorium.

“All my life I’ve been raised to have an interest in the world," said Moothart, 16. “We have conversations in our family about stuff going on in the news. It’s just kind of the culture I’ve been raised in.”

Moothart's Global Affairs teacher and AWQ adviser Deanna Sayer noticed that interest, too, as she sought team members for the quiz bowl-style competition. Teams are tested on their knowledge of specific world affairs issues determined by the World Affairs Councils of America.

The local tournament is part of a series of events celebrating the 20th anniversary of the International Affairs Forum, an affiliate of WACA. IAF members are mentoring the teams at Traverse City West, Traverse City Central, Elk Rapids, Interlochen Arts Academy, Forest Area, and Grand Traverse Academy. Moothart said IAF co-chair Jack Segal, a retired diplomat, has "rekindled my spirit" for global issues, and has inspired him to consider diplomacy as a career path.

“Sitting down and talking with him is absolutely my favorite thing," he said.

The selected AWQ issues are cybersecurity, U.S. energy policy, global economic realignment, the Middle East, global environmental Issues, U.S. education, UN Millennium Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty & hunger, global health, geography and current events.

During the tournament, the four-person teams put their heads together to answer questions. Elk Rapids' strategy has been to divide the ten issues among team members. Moothart is charged with becoming an expert on U.S. education and energy policy. Members study independently and then attempt to teach each other what they've learned on their own at weekly team practice sessions.

“We’re hoping having a conversation about the ideas we’ve studied will help us remember them better and keep them to memory," Moothart said.

The local winner earns the opportunity to compete at the national Academic WorldQuest competition on April 26 in Washington, DC. Marc Schollett, award-winning journalist and TV 7 & 4 anchor, will serve as Master of Ceremonies for the competition, set for noon-5 p.m. March 19 in Milliken Auditorium. The public is welcome to attend and admission is free.

Release date: February 3, 2014

For more information:

Karen Segal
International Affairs Forum
(231) 421-5424

Deanna Sayer
Elk Rapids High School
(231) 499-7712

Noah Moothart
(231) 357-1696