Ventura County Academic Rodeo

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The Ventura County Academic Rodeo is an academic competition and spelling bee that has been held in Ventura County in Southern California for elementary school and middle school students since 1996. The competition consists of the "Ponies" division and the "Stallions" division.

According to this page, "The Academic Rodeo is an academic team competition for children currently in or having completed the 4th or 5th grade for the Academic Ponies, or 6th 7th and 8th grade for the Academic Stallions. The competition which runs during the Ventura County Fair includes timed quizzes, toss up questions, vocabulary definitions and for the Academic Stallions a spelling bee. Prizes are given for first, second, third and fourth place. There are no entry fees or costs to participate. Competition is open to all schools and organized youth groups located in Ventura County."

According to this article, "The state championship is the brainchild of Hal Beaver, Academic Rodeo superintendent for the county fair, which ends today. This is the third year Ventura County teams have hosted the championship. 'I literally woke up one morning and just thought it would be nice for the kids to bring other teams in and compete,' Beaver said. He said he spends all year collecting the nearly 1,000 trivia questions used in the two competitions--drawing from books, newspapers, magazines and television. For Saturday's contestants, Beaver's collection of brain-twisters and 25-cent words produced enough anxiety to fuel an entire season of 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?'".

According to this article, "The spelling bee was the final round in the Stallions competition, which featured nine teams of middle-school students from throughout the County. Earlier rounds included the Academic Challenge Quiz, which required the teams to answer questions in a category of their choice, ranging from the Middle Ages to Atoms. This was followed by the "Toss Up Round," in which teams competed against each other to answer thirty questions about subjects including math, art, science, literature and grammar. The morning ended with a vocabulary competition. All of the competitors impressed the audience with their knowledge. Responding to an informal poll by announcer and KBBY DJ Bo Jaxon, most of the spectators admitted that they knew the answers to less than half the questions the kids were asked."

The Stallions Academic Challenge Quiz consists of 4 rounds: 1) Timed, 2) Toss Up, 3) Paddle Quiz, 4) Spelling Bee.

The Stallions rules for the Timed round are: "To open the quiz, the moderator will begin to read a "toss up" question. The first team to buzz in will be given a chance to answer the question. The moderator will stop reading the question once a team has buzzed in. Team members may consult freely, but the answer must come within the time limit of five (5) seconds. Once the answer is stated any other team members cannot change it. If the first team that buzzes in answers the question incorrectly, the remaining team(s) will be given the opportunity to hear the question read again and buzz in with an answer. Toss up questions will continue until a question is answered correctly. The team answering the toss up question correctly will go first in this round. The team is then given three (3) minutes to answer twenty (20) questions in a category they have chosen from the Academic Rodeo Quiz Board. Each correct answer is worth twenty (20) points. An additional twenty (20) point bonus is awarded if all twenty (20) questions are answered correctly. After the first team completes its three (3) minutes, the opposing team(s) will take its turn"

The Stallions rules for the Toss Up round are: "There are thirty (30) random questions asked in the first part of this round. Like in the "toss up" question asked in Round I, the first team to buzz in will be given a chance to answer. The answer must come within the time limit of five (5) seconds and once an answer is stated it cannot be changed by any other team members. If correct, the team is given ten (10) points. If incorrect, the moderator rereads the entire question and the opposing team(s) is given five (5) seconds to answer. If the opposing team(s) answers it correctly, twenty (20) points will be rewarded. Points are not deducted for incorrect answers. It is important to note that while a team can buzz in at any time during the reading of the question, if the team incorrectly anticipates the question, buzzes in early and does not provide a correct answer, they may be giving the opposing team an advantage. Since the reading of the question is stopped as soon as a team buzzes in, it is important to remember to only buzz in when you are confident of the entire question."

The Stallions rules for the Paddle Quiz round are: "There are five (5) questions in this section of Round II. The moderator will read a word and list four possible definitions for the word. Each definition will be assigned A, B, C or D to match the paddles given to each contestant. Each member of the team will decide which definition is the closest to being the correct one for the word and without conferring with any other team members, display the paddle that corresponds with the definition he/she has chosen. Each team member must keep their paddles up highly in the air until the judges indicate they can be lowered. Once a paddle has been raised, a contestant may not change his/her answer. Conferring among team members is not allowed during this portion of the quiz. Teams will receive one (1) point for each correct answer."

Sample Ponies questions can be found here, while sample Stallions questions can be found here.