Games are straining to the brain

March 05, 2007|by DAVE McMILLION

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - It's called Brain Games, but it could just as well be called the Brain Squeeze or Brain Freeze.

You might feel that way after trying to answer one of Mike Austin's questions.

Brain Games is held at Shepherd University every year to raise money for Literacy Volunteers of the Eastern Panhandle, a network of local state and regional providers who help people learn to read.

In Brain Games, teams of about six people gather around a table trying to come up with answers to questions dealing with subject matter like math, science and history.

Many of the questions are the product of Austin, the graduate dean at Shepherd University.

Throughout the year, Austin said he comes across facts that he thinks might make for good questions in Brain Games and sets them aside.


There are 25 questions in each round and Austin said he tries to make about 10 of the questions fairly easy to answer.

The next 10 get a little harder and the remaining five are usually what Austin refers to as "the widow maker questions."

Here's a little taste.

Question: What category follows Kingdom and Phylum in the standard Linnaean system of biological taxonomy?

Answer: Class

Question:What is the heaviest of the naturally occurring noble gases?

Answer: Radon

Question:Which planet's two moons are named Phobos and Deimos?


"Some of them are a little harder than last year," said Terry Schnurr, a member of the Woo Hoo Rendezvous team that won the competition last year.

But The Woo Hoo Rendezvous Team couldn't complain too much after coming in first place. The Ridge Street Riddlers placed second and the South Mountaineers came in third.

Norberta Schoene said there were too many questions about television.

"Don't you think literacy should cover more books?" Schoene asked.

Schoene was a member of The Bookworms that represented the Morgan County Library.

Money raised through Brain Games comes partly from entry fees, which are $20 per person. Money is also raised from books sold at the event and door prize ticket sales, organizers said.

About 200 people competed and about $5,000 was expected to be raised by Sunday's event, organizers said.

The money is used to pay for books for tutors teaching people to read and other materials, organizers said.

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