Battle of The Brains: Miami Palmetto Senior High Competes in School Duel

Ava Stuzin, News Editor

In late January, members of Miami Palmetto Senior High’s Science National Honor Society had the opportunity to compete in the South Florida school duel, an academic event in which teams of high school students compete in an academic-based quiz show.

MPSH senior Luke Yang and juniors Isabel Duran and Alexa Fein represented MPSH in the battle against Archimedean Upper Conservatory Charter School.

“It’s basically like Jeopardy for the high schools and you compete in teams. So that makes it a little different from Jeopardy. But it’s a quiz show. So on teams of three people from each high school, you compete, one high school against another,” Fein said. 

This was not the first time MPSH participated in the school duel. Years ago, under the recommendation and guidance of Advanced Placement Environmental Science Teacher Pamela Shlachtman, MPSH had the opportunity to compete after hearing about the competition from various emails.

“They sent an email about a competition a number of years ago. And I thought, ‘yeah, we could do that.’ And then we put together a team for people or people who volunteered to be on the team. Back then it was five people and one alternate,” Shlachtman said.

This year’s team was formed after Shlachtman opened the opportunity to members of SNHS and enabled the chance for any members that showed interest to compete.

“I’m a big part of the Science National Honor Society and very involved in the society. And Ms. Shlachtman recommended the team to us for school and that’s how we got involved,” Duran said.

The questions ranged from all different types of core subjects, including math, science and history.

“I’ve seen them ask questions and other games about ancient history, but they asked me some questions that my [AP United States History] knowledge helped with, so shout out to Mr. Vargas; [it was] more like recent history questions, like Henry Clay was an answer. And then for pop culture, they asked some things about cars that Luke Yang, who’s on our team, was really good at,” Fein said.

In preparation for the match, the competitors practiced by watching old episodes of the competition and using real buzzers to practice.

“We practiced a few times. We met up with the team and practiced a few times and we also watched old competitions to see what it was like,” Yang said.

The duel itself consists of four rounds of questions, covering a variety of subject areas. The first round features 10-point toss-up questions that either team may answer. The second round matches individual players head-to-head for a 10-point question, in which the winner can earn their team the chance to answer three more bonus questions worth up to 30 points. The third round is a speed round, where each team attempts to answer 10 questions in a limited amount of time. The fourth and final round includes a series of toss-up questions worth 20 points each.

Throughout the overall match, the televised and unusual circumstances created an experience different from a typical academic competition.

“It was a good atmosphere, but it felt weird because it’s televised like it’s a TV company, and they put it online as a show. So it was different from all the other science competitions I’ve done because they require makeup and filming everything and doing a bunch of promotions,” Duran said.

While on the show, competitors received a glimpse of how the production was made and even got a behind-the-scenes tour.

“We got to see the behind-the-scenes of TV production on a much larger scale than I’ve ever seen before. It’s pretty cool. We saw their servers, their big fancy cameras with their lighting equipment. It was really cool to see everyone working in coordination,” Yang said.

The competition airs on April 27; to watch it, visit the School Duel’s YouTube page.