Name one of the Chinese Dynasties: The Ming Dynasty. This author wrote a book featuring characters named Clover and Boxer: George Orwell. This NFL franchise featured a player named William “The Refrigerator” Perry: the Chicago Bears.
The above are just a few of the questions that Catonsville Middle School seventh-grader Teddy Plisko buzzed in and answered correctly as one 435 contestants from 47 states at the third annual National History Bee last Sunday in Atlanta.
Although he was knocked out in the event’s preliminary rounds, Teddy is more than satisfied with his effort. The 13-year-old trivia whiz made it to nationals after competing against 120 fellow middle school students at a regional competition in Bethesda. Teddy, who qualified for regionals through an online test, was one of four contestants to score high enough to advance to nationals.
“[The national event] has the 400 kids who are the best history students in the country. The fact I was one of them was pretty cool,” Teddy said.
In the six preliminary rounds — used to whittle down the 400-contestant field to 40 — Teddy was pitted against nine other participants at once, as proctors asked a total of 30 questions each round. The students were given buzzers and rang in “Jeopardy-style” — although answers did not have to be phrased in the form of a question. Quickly, Teddy learned, that a split-second often made the difference.
“There were a bunch of times where I thought I rang in first, but someone else rang in and got it and I was like, ‘Hmm, I thought I had that one,’” Teddy said.
Topics ranged from ancient world history to modern American history and everything in between. Scattered among the historical questions were ones involving sports and geography.
Much like in sports and in school, Teddy enjoys the competition. And, to his parents and teachers, he comes off as a natural, routinely picking up chunks of random information and storing it in his memory bank.
However, some items are easier to remember than others.
“My mother says I have selective memory,” said Teddy, a recent bar mitzvah at Baltimore Hebrew Congregation. “I might remember an obscure trivia fact, but not remember to unload the dishwasher or take out the trash.”