How it works

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 on line 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 and the 7th/8th grade level are offered in all 50 states in the United States. We besides our home state of Iowa, we offer a in November a Great Plains regional (Nebraska, Kansas, South Dakota, and North Dakota), a Corn Belt regional ( Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Missouri), and a Lakes regional (Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin). In February we offer three more regionals: Northeast regional (Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont), a Southeast regional (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, Virginia), and a West regional ( Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming).

In addition we now provide national contests for 5th/6th grade teams and 7th/8th grade teams in April. The April contests are different questions than the regional contests.

The tests are self-scoring, online 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 including keyboarding.

The 5th/6th and 7th/8th grade contests differ in question difficulty. At the 5th/6th grade level, buying a contest entitles the teacher to use it as a practice contest the following year. Schools can enter as many teams as they want but each contest, must be purchased (for example a school may want to enter a 5th grade team and a 6th grade team which would mean purchasing two contest or they could combine 5th and 6th graders into one purchased contest). At the 7th/8th grade level, a contest must be also be purchased for each team. The contests may only be used once during this school year but the contests will appear next year as practice for free, and can be used over and over.

After the contest is taken on quiz bowl day, the teams scores are recorded automatically. For exceptionally high scores the teacher will be ask to verify the team followed the rules. We rank them by high score and grade level the following Monday and will post the results on the Thinking Cap website. We award a team trophy and individual ribbons based on the number of teams participating.

How Questions Are Scored

Students are given two chances to answer each question. A total of 60 seconds is allowed for each question. If the correct answer is given on the first try, ten points are awarded, plus bonus points based on the speed of the answer are earned as follows:

Time Bonus Points
60-56 seconds5
55-51 seconds4
50-56 seconds3
45-41 seconds2
40-36 seconds1
35-0 seconds0

On the second try, just five points are awarded for the correct answer and no bonus points are possible.

A line will appear at the top of the answer screen to let you know how many points you got on the question or the correct answer if you did not get the correct question either time.