x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Dubai's bright sparks engage in Battle of the Brains

Bright students from 10 schools compete in an interschool quiz that aims to hone children's non-academic skills while testing their knowledge.

Pupils of Horizon School take part in the Battle of the Brains quiz competition at Al Safa school in Dubai. Pawan Singh / The National
Pupils of Horizon School take part in the Battle of the Brains quiz competition at Al Safa school in Dubai. Pawan Singh / The National

DUBAI // Zaina Afzal shook her head in dismay and looked at her teammates for answers when the quizmaster asked what a cartographer does for a living.

The 10-year-old pupil from the Horizon School in Dubai had seen the other teams buckle under pressure and pass on the question at Battle of the Brains, an interschool quiz held yesterday afternoon.

Now it was their turn.

"It may seem obvious that it has something to do with cars," ventured Zaina, after none of the teams seated on the stage at Al Safa Private School auditorium managed to give the right answer.

"But no, it isn't," she laughed later, after learning that a cartographer charts maps. "No one managed to get that."

The wrong answer did not stop the Horizons team of six from proceeding to the final round of the competition, where they competed against Dubai English Speaking School, Repton and Jumeirah English Speaking School (Jess).

Horizon tied for second place with Dubai English Speaking School behind Jess.

The interschool competition was organised by Starting Point Dubai, a non-profit company that organises skills-based events for children to hone their non-academic skills while testing their knowledge.

"In today's world, information is available at the click of a mouse," said Anoop Bhargava, an adviser from Starting Point.

"But admissions to top universities and jobs are finite. Pupils must be prepared to display skills that set them apart from the rest and make it to the top - that is debating, public speaking, leadership and working in a team."

Ten schools took part in the quiz for primary schoolchildren between the ages of nine and 12 years.

The first multiple-choice round consisted of questions about topics in the news.

"Name a country based in two continents, Europe and Asia," said Laura Everest, a partner at Starting Point.

All teams raised their hands, shouting out "Turkey".

Next came general knowledge, open questions and rapid-fire questions before the pupils were quizzed on academic knowledge and current affairs.

Marion Sinclair, principal of the Horizons School, said the children put in a lot of hard work to brush up on different topics.

"We can see from their enthusiasm they have put a lot of effort into this," said Ms Sinclair.

"These competitions not only develop their thinking skills, but also raise their confidence and ability to face a crowd.

"Right now, they have to sit on a stage with a team and think fast."

James Gore, head of English at Repton preparatory school, agreed the quiz would make pupils well-rounded achievers.

"It improves their general knowledge and allows them to showcase their talents outside of academics and sports," said Mr Gore.

The six pupils from his school were chosen in a preliminary test.

Isabella Caraiscos, a Year 6 pupil, was elated when she was picked to represent the school.

"We were only told a few days ago and we just studied a bit," she said.

Her teammates also argued about what cartographer could mean.

Freya Reynolds, 10, said she knew the answer but could not get a word in edgeways. "I knew it had something to do with drawing maps but no one was listening to me."