Thinking Cap History and Info

Thinking Cap Quiz Bowl is a company formed in 1989 by Harvey and Shirley Kimble in Urbandale, Iowa. Both were avid Trivial Pursuit players and Harvey coached very successful high school quiz bowl teams. At that time, no company offered computer quiz bowls for elementary school and we decided to fill that need. Harvey tried successfully a 5th and 6th grade contest in Iowa. We formed a company and offered one in Illinois as a test quiz and found teachers and kids very receptive and glad to have a computer team activity. A few years later we began offering 7th and 8th grade quiz bowls too.

How Thinking Cap Works

Our intent is that the students have fun while doing a scholastic, computer team competition in their own school. We have tried to keep it inexpensive so many students can participate. The number of students per team is up to the teacher and schools may do as many teams as desired. Some teachers and teams really enter it to win and hand pick selective teams while some teams just do it for a fun, educational activity including any students who are interested.

Contests at the 5th/6th grade level are offered in all 48 continental United States. At the 7th/8th grade level, quiz bowls are offered to the 16 states with the most interest. Most states do it on their own day (some smaller states take it the same day as another) spread out over the school year. Each state is compared only to itself.

The tests are self-scoring, computer contests of 100 multiple-choice questions. Areas covered include math, geography, government, sports, spelling, science, literature, English, history, general information and just plain fun trivia. It is meant to be a team activity with all takers around one computer. Two chances to answer correctly are given. Points are awarded based on how fast they answer as well as on accuracy. Therefore, teams who do well usually are teams who can come up with a concensus answer quickly. An adult is needed to monitor but no adult help can be given.

The 5th/6th and 7th/8th grade contests differ in question difficulty and in the fact that at the 5th/6th grade level, buying a disk entitles the teacher to use it (either by copying it or reusing it) for as many teams as he or she wants, calling in only as many scores as disks purchased. At the 7th/8th grade level, a disk must be purchased for each team. This disk may only be used once until a score is phoned in and an unlocking password is given. Then the disk can be copied and used for again for practice or with unofficial groups.

After the contest is taken on quiz bowl day, teachers within the state phone in their scores and answer some questions assuring ethical test taking. We rank them by high score and grade level the next afternoon and will post the results on the Thinking Cap website. In the past, results were mailed out that next afternoon. We award a team trophy and individual ribbons based on the number of teams participating.