Written by Michael Chen
This past weekend, Gunn students participated in the annual Millard Fillmore Trivia Hunt. This competition took place between Gunn, Castilleja, Carlmont and Woodside. It involved students researching trivia questions and finding written sources to back answers.
Science teacher Dr. Heather Mellows, the organizer of the event at Gunn, says it was a particularly hard year for the Gunn team. “This year was a difficult year,” Dr. Mellows said. “Last year’s team was principally led by seniors, and now that they’ve graduated student involvement is down.”
Despite the decrease in participation, junior Vaidehi Srinivas enjoyed the event. “Even though the Gunn team didn’t place too well, the event was actually a lot of fun,” Srinivas said. “We still got a lot of questions done and found a lot of answers.”
Trivia questions ranged from classic research questions to bring-ins. According to Srinivas, this year one of the bring-in questions involved students finding a packaged food item for every letter of the alphabet. None of these items could contain any high fructose corn syrup.
The event itself was created by Carlmont history teacher Dr. Robert Hunter 45 years ago in an attempt to give students research experience. “Millard Fillmore was designed to promote research skills in Dr. Hunter’s American History class,” Dr. Mellows said. “It focuses on Americana, which is the pop culture, music, movies and history of America.”
The hunt consists of approximately 30 trivia questions, many of which have several parts and are all based on American trivia. Students are required to find the answers, which can be found using any available resources. Then, they find a citation for their answer. In past years, students were required to find printed citations in the form of books, newspaper articles, or magazines. This year, however, the competition allows for a total of five Google Book citations.
After a weekend of intensive searching, participating schools then meet up to debate each other’s answers. Different schools point out problems with opponents’ solutions while defending their own answers. This debate determines the winning school through teacher judgment of answers. This school has its name and the year added to a trophy. “Apparently one of the schools was extremely nitpicky this year,” Srinivas said. “The debate went so late that they had to stop and let teachers judge the remaining questions.”
Each school has a team captain. However, any student is welcome to take part. “There were no specified positions, aside from a team captain,” Srinivas said. “I happened to go and take some pictures, because part of the questions required us to go and take pictures with certain things or at certain places.”