AGazine, April 2012

The Online Magazine of the Academic Games Leagues of America

News & Notes Prop Panel Eric Nelson Down Memory Lane Past AGazines

Nationals Daily Schedule

Approximately 800 players and 250-300 adults will descend on Wheeling, WV for the national tournament.

Below is the updated schedule. Please note the addition of the Talent Show Sunday evening and the tryout times. Locations of each activity are listed in the Welcome Booklet sent to heads of leagues and will also be available in the packets given out at registration on the 27th.

Friday, April 27

3 – 7 PM Arrival and Final Registration
5 – 6 PM Dinner
6 – 6:30 PM Opening Presentation and Welcome
6:30 – 7 PM New Coaches Meeting
6:45 – 7:45 PM Elementary/Middle Mathematics Judges Meeting
8 – 9 PM Elementary/Middle LINGUISHTIK Judges Meeting
Junior/Senior LINGUISHTIK Judges Meeting
9 PM Final Scheduling changes due
Saturday, Apr 28  
6:45 – 8 AM Breakfast
8 – 10 AM LINGUISHTIK Rounds 1 and 2
9 – 10 AM Online EQUATIONS Demonstration for Coaches
10 AM – 12PM PRESIDENTS (Jr/Sr = 1-24; El/Mid = 1-12)
10 – 11 AM Junior/Senior Mathematics Judges Meeting
11 AM – 12PM Math Rules Meeting for High School
11:45 AM – 1 PM Lunch
1 – 3 PM EQUATIONS Rounds 1 and 2
3 – 4 PM Online EQUATIONS Demonstration for Coaches
3 – 5 PM WORLD EVENTS (Current Events and Theme)
3 – 5 PM Talent Show Tryouts: non-World Events players
4 – 5:30 PM LINGUISHTIK Rules meeting
5 – 6 PM Talent Show Tryouts: World Events players
5 – 6:15 PM Dinner
7 – 8:30 PM ON-SETS Rounds 1 and 2
7 – 8:30 PM Social Studies Rules Meeting
8:30 – 10 PM AGLOA Annual Board Meeting
Sunday, April 29  
6:45 – 8 AM Breakfast
8 – 10 AM LINGUISHTIK Rounds 3 and 4
10 – 11:30 AM PROPAGANDA Sections A and B
10 AM – 12 PM Mathematics Rules Meeting for Elem/Middle
11:45 AM – 1 PM Lunch
12N – 1 PM LINGUISHTIK Team Playoffs
1 – 3 PM ON-SETS Rounds 3 and 4
3 – 4:30 PM WORLD EVENTS (Current Events and Theme)
3 – 5 PM Improvement Training for Novice EQUATIONS Coaches
4:30 – 6 PM ON-SETS Team Playoffs
4:30 – 10 PM Individual Playoffs for LINGUISHTIK and ON-SETS
5 – 6:15 PM Dinner
6 PM Deadline for submitting Outstanding Senior and Outstanding Teacher nominations
7 – 9 PM Talent Show
Monday, April 30  
6:45 – 8 AM Breakfast
8 – 10 AM EQUATIONS Rounds 3 and 4
10 AM – 12 PM PRESIDENTS (Jr/Sr = 25-44; El/Mid = 13-24)
10 AM – 12 PM Improvement Training for Novice LINGUISHTIK Coaches
11:45 AM – 1 PM Lunch
1 – 2:30 PM PROPAGANDA Sections C and F
2:30 – 6 PM EQUATIONS Playoffs
7 – 9:30 PM Awards Ceremonies (El/Mid and Jr/Sr separate)

Propaganda Panel at Work

On the eve of Nationals, this report explains how the Propaganda examples for both local and national tournaments are put together.

  • Individuals from various states submit examples by August 15 for inclusion in the set amassed for local tournaments.
  • The editor selects the ten examples (including an extra) for each section in both El/Mid and Jr/Sr.
  • The editor sends the sets, without the authors’ suggested answers, as email attachments to each of the three panelists.
  • The panelists return their answers with comments on any examples they found unclear or were puzzled about in any way.
  • All panelists’ answers agree with the author’s opinion for the vast majority of the examples. However, there are usually several in each section where there is some disagreement.
  • The editor draws up a document listing the examples on which the panel’s responses were not unanimous and recommending an action for each one.
    • In most cases, the editor quotes relevant statements in Propaganda: The Definitive Guide to defend the author’s opinion and recommends no change in the example. Most often, the dissenting panelist relents after another look at the example.
    • Occasionally, the dissenter points out a certain phrase in the example that suggested another technique. The editor then suggests a revision of the example to sharpen the wording so that it is clearly one technique. The panel responds to the revision to make sure that all now agree on the answer.
    • If the panel ultimately can’t agree on an example, it is replaced, with the panel responding to the substitute.

Here’s two examples from the local tournament sets for 2011-12 that illustrate how the process works.

Example 1: Section C

TV ad showing a man walking into the house with a bag of groceries: “My wife, the dentist, won’t allow any other mouth wash in our house but Act. It’s the best for the children’s teeth and ours too.”

Author’s opinion: Degrees and Titles
One panelist put No Technique with this explanation: “Mom IS a Dentist, thus her opinion is valid.”

Editor’s response: The problem is that it isn’t a real dentist being quoted. The ad writer gives the mother the title dentist to impress the listener.
Proposed revision: None.

The dissenting panelist agreed with the editor’s explanation.

Example 2: Section C

Internet ad: “The Music You Want. Right Now. Millions of songs for any device. Amazon MP3”

Author’s opinion: Numbers
One panelist put Slogans.

Editor’s proposed revision: Internet ad: “Get the music you want right now. Millions of songs for any device. Amazon MP3.”

Questions to panelists: Does this revision get rid of the Slogans part of the original example? Or should we just drop the first sentence?

The panel agreed with the revision.

Meet Your Board: Eric Nelson

EricNelsonJudgingEric Nelson began playing Academic Games in Ann Arbor, MI in Stu White’s 7th grade math class at Clague Middle School. Stu taught the entire class Equations and held a classroom tournament every Friday. Eric decided to join the Academic Games Club that met after school.

I struggled a little bit the first year and at times considered not continuing. But I stuck with it and made Nationals that year.

Eric qualified for nationals six straight years (1982-7) until he graduated from Huron High School, where his coach was Mike Steigerwald. Eric became involved in coaching as a senior in high school. His younger brother, a sixth-grader, wanted to learn the games. So Eric’s mother told the principal that her older son was available to coach a team at the school. Eric inadvertently created a problem for his brother’s team.

I had never played in Elementary division. So I taught them as if they were Middle. I taught them Restrictions in On-Sets. I didn’t know they couldn’t use them in Elementary. I taught them to use all the charts we used in high school.

He quickly experienced the joy of coaching while competing in On-Sets at the Michigan state tournament.

My team had just lost the Senior Division championship. After beating the best team in the division, Renaissance, in the third round, we were beaten by a team we shouldn’t have lost to. I was tipped back on my chair yelling at my teammates when Mike tapped me on the shoulder. “Your brother’s team just made a 59 in On-Sets. They’re going to the playoffs.” I literally fell off my chair. I ran out of the room to meet my team. They won the Basic On-Sets championship as well as Presidents. So I caught the coaching bug.

Eric didn’t experience the same success as a player. He recalls another incident from his senior year when he came close but fell short at Nationals.

We were tied for first in Equations with Rummel after three rounds, and I had a perfect score. “This is my chance. I’m finally going to make the playoffs.” The last round, I played two players who had no business beating me. I took it easy and didn’t play aggressively. On the last shake, they challenged me Impossible. I had a correct Solution except I used 0 wild when it hadn’t been called. I lost my chance at the playoffs, as did the team. I asked myself, “Why did I bother doing any of this?”

I tell that story to my kids a lot. Things happen for a reason sometimes. If I had won as a senior, would I have come back as a college freshman to coach? Coaching was a way for me to finally win.

When Stu moved to high school, he asked his former pupil to coach the team at Clague. Eric accepted while attending college at Michigan and still runs the program, making time in his career as a real estate appraiser. It took seven or eight years before the team really started winning. But they haven’t stopped winning since.

Confidence was always a big issue for me. “I’m going to blow it somehow.” I would make a mistake because I was sure I would make a mistake. Working with junior high kids who suffer from the same thing is the greatest gift I’ve gotten from Academic Games.

We’ve created a program based on hard work, building kids’ confidence. “What the mind can conceive, the mind can achieve.” I steal a lot from Bo Schembechler. “Those who stay will be champions.”

What has made me a successful coach is that I was a lousy player. Nick Wang [a 2009 Outstanding Senior] was gifted in a mathematical way like no one we’ve ever seen. He would be successful at whatever he did. As proud as I am about the changes he made, I’m also proud about those other kids who weren’t that way but succeeded because they gave 110% or worked harder at this than an class they’ve ever been in. I’m proudest of creating a work ethic and lessons that kids learned that go well beyond whether they know how to do an infinitive clause or whether they know how to do a double radical with k 10.

EricNelson2011NatlsEric did student teaching and tried several times to get a certificate. But he was never really satisfied.

Teaching wasn’t Academic Games. Kids weren’t there because they wanted to be there. There wasn’t a competitive aspect to it. Teachers don’t get tangible rewards every day. It’s possible as a classroom teacher to go through the entire year and never get the rush you get as a coach seeing your player come out of a room and say, “I got a 6!”

Coaching has only deepened his love of and appreciation for Academic Games.

The wonderful thing about Academic Games as opposed to just about every other academic extra-curricular that I’ve seen is that there’s no ceiling, especially in the cube games. Equations can be played by three second graders or three high school seniors or college seniors, and each game can be equally competitive. That’s what makes our activity so much greater than anything else I’ve ever seen.

He has particularly enjoyed being a mentor for other Academic Games alumni who, like himself, begin coaching while they’re in college.

Not only am I coaching middle schoolers but I’m also coaching coaches. Vivek Thanabel, the person I coach with right now, is a college sophomore whom I coached at Clague. I’m stll teaching him. I see him get just as excited when he comes up with a new strategy as he did when he was a player. It’s the cycle of giving, seeing him mature and understand. There’s no ceiling for us coaches either.

Down Memory Lane

1994 marked the first nationals held at Oglebay Resort, Wheeling, WV. Here’s the big winners from that year.

Natls94ElSweeps Natls94MidSweeps
Natls94JrSweeps Natls94SrSweeps
Natls94OutstandingSeniors Natls94OutstandingEducators

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