The Avon Grove Intermediate School Knowledge Master Open (KMO) team placed in the top 9 percent nationally in the Jan. 23 computer-based academic competition for fifth-graders. The AGIS team placed second out of 21 participating schools in Pennsylvania, and 22nd overall out of 248 fifth-grade teams.Twelve fifth-graders in the Academically Talented (AT) program at AGIS participated in the competition in which teams earn points by answering multiple-choice questions quickly and accurately. Three other students helped the AGIS team prepare, but were absent the day of the competition.

Students are tested on their knowledge of 15 subject areas: American history, world history, government, recent events, economics & law, geography, literature, English, mathematics, physical science, biology, earth science, health & psychology, fine arts, and trivia.

All teams in the Knowledge Master Open receive 100 curriculum-based contest questions on a CD-ROM, and compete using a computer at their own schools. A special password starts the contest, which must be completed in one session requiring 1 to 1 1/2 hours for fifth-and sixth-grade teams.

Team size is unlimited. A team may take up to three, five-minute time-outs during the competition. Separate results are prepared for each contest grade level - fifth, sixth, middle school, junior high, and high school.

Each question can be answered for a maximum of 10 points. The questions are presented on screen with five choices and a one-minute timer. If answered correctly, five points are awarded. Up to five additional bonus points can be earned if questions are answered quickly. (Five bonus points if answered within the first seven seconds; four points if answered within 12 seconds; three within 17 seconds; two within 22 seconds; one within 29 seconds; and zero bonus points if answered in greater than 29 seconds). When time expires, or if the first answer was incorrect, another chance is given, with another minute on the clock. Only two points are awarded for correct "second chance" questions.

Communication among team members is encouraged during the competition, but coaches - or audience members if there are any - may give no assistance of any kind. Students may use only pencils and paper during the competition. Other resources, such as calculators and books, are not permitted.

To prepare for the competition, the AGIS students took old tests as a group, and individual students selected subject areas to research in order to become subject matter "specialists."

Avon Grove School District fifth-graders have competed in the Knowledge Master Open each year since 1992. Students have historically scored in the top half nationally. This is the fourth AGIS team to finish in the top 9 percent, including the 1994 team, which placed in the top 5 percent nationally.

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