The JROTC knowledge bowl team tackles question of how to navigate through pandemic


Johnnie Walton

Several members of the JROTC Knowledge Bowl Team Article pose with their club sponsors, Sergeant Page and Sergeant Major Boulden, for a celebratory picture after their first competition of the year. They have had four competitions so far.

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the JROTC knowledge bowl team has had to make adjustments to the way they operate. Before, competitions took place in-person at other schools. Now, members of the team are navigating their way through a new platform.  

“…Because everyone’s new to this new format, basically we’ve been having to reteach the material because when you’re so used to doing it one way, it’s like brand new when you switch to doing it another way,” team commander Aditi Mishra (10) said.

While competitions used to be held at other schools, social distancing guidelines required competitions to be held on a new platform similar to Kahoot: Nearpod. The team communicates through Microsoft Teams and holds weekly meetings on Tuesdays to practice. When competitions occur, they usually take place shortly after practice. Competitors log on to Nearpod and complete a multiple choice test.  

“It’s a platform called Nearpod…basically the way we’re doing it online now is it’s like each competitor kind of competes individually, but then all of the individual scores are calculated together for the team,” Johnnie Walton (12) said. “Normally there would be for each question in the tournament  one person designated from the team to answer the question and it would kind of alternate teams like that, but with the new platform, it’s just everyone from both teams answering questions at the same time.” 

Conducting competitions online has its disadvantages. The majority of last year’s team consisted of seniors who have since graduated, meaning many of those open spaces were filled by freshmen. Since the new platform tests the competitors’ knowledge on all levels, instead of one based on their grade level, this could be a drawback. Additionally, not only have technological difficulties caused several members to lose time during the competition, but moving to an online platform also takes away the social aspect of the team. 

“It’s more of like a slumber party, really, and we’ll just prep for competition the hour before, get all dressed up, take a lot of pictures and go to competition and kill it, but now there isn’t that aspect to it anymore,” Mishra said. “Like, we can all have our drinks and popcorn while watching competition, but it’s not the same as being there in person.” 

Despite technological difficulties, competing in an online platform proved in some ways to be easier than the normal, rigorous competition. 

“This depends on how you see it, so we don’t have to wear uniforms anymore and sometimes wearing uniforms was kind of like a hassle,” Lovie Chang (11) said. “I like not having to wear uniforms anymore and also multiple choice is a lot easier because even if you don’t know, you can still guess, so you still have a chance of getting the answer right, but with memorization it’s like that answer or you don’t know it, so it would be a lot harder.”

Despite numerous challenges,the JROTC knowledge bowl team has continued to win. They have maintained an undefeated record  for three years and continue to adapt to online competitions. 

“This is one of the best ways to both prevent cheating and still keep the competition going and I like the solution,” Mishra said.