The two teams headed into the final round of Deep Run Elementary School's first "Geography Game" with the parents clinging to a slim 10-point lead. Fingers tensed over the buzzers as shouts came from the audience, "Come on, students!"
Moderator Omar Bradford, a 10-year-old fifth-grader from Elkridge, read the final question: Portland is toOregon as what is to Connecticut?
His mother, Barbara Bradford, hit the buzzer first, but the parents took a 20-point loss when she couldn't come up with "Hartford" before time was called. The 90-80 victory went to the students.
A second student team swept the final game of the evening, trouncing the parents, 165-65.
The game, designed by Omar and classmate Walter Bruton, 10, has been nearly as hot as Nintendo among the fourth- and fifth-graders at Deep Run Elementary for the last several weeks.
Students have been sacrificing recess for chances to identify Louisiana by its outline or name the river that divides Texas from Mexico.
"They want to know if they can keep on playing even if they lose," said Arlene Harrison, a gifted and talented program teacher who has given up her own lunch breaks to conduct elimination rounds for the 45 students competing to be on the top teams. She said one girl complainedthat a classmate was gaining an unfair edge by studying geography onthe bus.
"So, are these the all-stars?" asked Elkridge resident Rick Blondo as he, Bradford and David Zinner of Columbia faced off Wednesday night against fifth-grader Robbie Newell, 10, fourth-grader Michael McCormick, 9, and fifth-grader Danny Caudill, 11.
In fact, Harrison said she still has four teams in competition for Deep Run's top geography team. The students competing against parents had alreadysurvived several elimination rounds against their classmates. The contest with parents was just for fun, an event to get parents involvedin their children's studies.
"How did I do?" Omar's mother asked her son after the program. Assured that her performance was fine, shesaid she hadn't had a chance to bone up on geography and was forced to rely on what she remembered from classes 25 years ago.
"I triedto ask Omar a few questions tonight before we came over here, but hewouldn't tell me," she said with a laugh.
In the second game, Harold Silverman of Elkridge joined the parents' team to compete againsthis son Reid, a fifth-grader. Reid blew the parents away with successive correct answers to the state where Mount Rushmore is found (South Dakota), the smallest state (Rhode Island), the capital of Maine (Augusta) and the first state to join the union (Delaware).
Asked after the game if he had crammed for the competition, the elder Silverman replied, "No, obviously."
The study and research that culminated in the geography game began two years ago. Omar and Walter, who read geography books for fun, came to Harrison's class with the capitalsof all 50 states committed to memory. When the teacher asked what project they would like, they decided on a geography board game.
They researched questions for the board game the first year, refined it with Harrison's help, and exhibited it at the county gifted and talented fair last year. This year, the teacher helped them create the geography game, with rules similar to "It's Academic." Again, they had to hit the library to find questions for the game.
"We looked up a lot of books," Omar said.