SEG Challenge Bowl
SEG Challenge Bowl

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Under Peter Duncan’s initiative, The SEG first launched the SEG Challenge Bowl program in 2006. Since then, much excitement has been created on campuses in the USA and abroad. Local organizations host regional competitions and the winning teams, consisting of two students each, attend the SEG Annual Meeting and compete in the world championships. The number of teams competing around the globe has exploded from just six teams in 2007 to more than 50 teams in recent years.

The SEG Challenge Bowl competition is an international contest testing student’s breadth and depth of knowledge about the field of geoscience. The quiz-show format results in intense competition as the contestants attempt to “buzz in” first with the answers to challenging geoscience questions.

The contest itself is in the form of a short-answer multiple-choice quiz on topics in the geosciences (geology, geophysics, geography, and some geodesy), as well as some questions about the history of our science and SEG itself. Questions range in difficulty from second- or third-year undergraduate level to first-year graduate school. All geoscience students are encouraged to participate in this unique event which combines knowledge, competition, and fun.

Upcoming Dates

For more information, email [email protected]

23 Oct - 23 Oct
Virtual World Finals Competition

Challenge Bowl Districts

Due to existing Challenge Bowls competitions, limitations on the buzzer system, and size of stage during the finals, the proposed regions are limited to no more than 12.  Also, local Challenge Bowls may be organized in countries with sufficient student team representation.  Local CB winners will then proceed to compete in the Regional Challenge Bowls.  Only winners from the 11 regional Challenge Bowls are allowed to participate in the International Finals at the SEG Annual Meeting.

Local Competitions

The following points serve as guidelines to running a local SEG Challenge Bowl competition at your university:

  1. Establish feasibility of organizing a Challenge Bowl for the region
  2. Obtain University, SEG Section and Country Representative (if applicable) support for this event
  3. Understand and agree to SEG “Challenge Bowl Regional Procedures Manual”
  4. Propose budget for hosting event
  5. Apply to SEG to host the Challenge Bowl
  6. Secure local sponsorship (promotion, T-shirts, prizes, refreshment, venue etc) to host the event, and provide a travel grant to local winners to travel to regional Challenge Bowl  or SEG Annual Meeting and Challenge Bowl Finals (if applicable)
  7. Send sponsor/s’ information to SEG
  8. Secure an Emcee (Faculty Advisor, or senior geophysicist) to hold the event
  9. Assist the Emcee to recruit assistants
  10. Contact regional Student Chapters to advertise and recruit teams.  Need min 8 teams from at least five universities to participate
  11. Hold the event as scheduled
  12. After the event, send SEG a write-up of the event, including pictures, names of participants and their universities, names and contact information of winners
  13. Assist winners in their travel arrangement with local Send appreciation letter to sponsor/s
  14. Work with sponsor/s on finances

Laptop set up

Competition Rules

Contestants should be student members of SEG and may be at the graduate or undergraduate level. Each team consists of 2 players who are usually from the same school, but not necessarily so.

The contest itself is in the form of a short answer/multiple choice quiz in the geosciences (geology, geophysics, geography and some geodesy) as well as some questions about the history of our science and the SEG itself. Questions will range in difficulty from 2nd or 3rd year undergraduate level to perhaps first year graduate school.

The following procedures for a given contest are designed on having 5 to 8 teams participating. Some adjustments will have to be made for contests with either more or fewer teams competing.

The contest will consist of 3 legs of 3 rounds each – 9 rounds in total. All 8 teams participate in the first leg after which the 4 teams with the lowest cumulative score on the first 3 rounds retire leaving the 4 top teams to continue on. After the second leg of 3 rounds, the 2 teams with the lowest cumulative score on the second leg only (not including the first leg scoring) retire leaving the top 2 teams to compete in the final 3 rounds. Scoring is reset for each leg rather than being carried over between legs.

Within each leg the 3 rounds follow the same format each time as follows:

  1. Round 1a – assigned questions. Each team in succession will be asked an assigned question. They will have 10 seconds to answer. If they get the correct answer they will score 20 points. There is no penalty for an incorrect answer. But in the case of an incorrect answer the question is thrown open to the other teams. The first team to “buzz in” will get the opportunity to answer. They will be awarded 10 points for a correct answer but penalized -10 points for an incorrect answer. Typically we will cycle through the teams twice for this round.
  2. Round 1b – category questions. There are 4 questions in each of 4 categories: geology, seismic, un-seismic and My SEG (history of geoscience and SEG related questions). The category is selected by the leader from Round 1a for the first question and then by the correct respondent to each question thereafter until all 16 questions have been asked. The questions are open to the first team to “buzz in”. A correct answer scores 20 points. An incorrect answer scores a -20 and the question is thrown open to the floor. If this happens, the correct answer is worth 10 points and an incorrect answer is worth -10 as a penalty.
  3. Round 1c – Short Snappers. These are “True/False” or 2 choice questions that are run through very quickly. Typically there are 10 questions in the round.. They are open to the floor on a “buzz in” basis with the correct answer scoring 10 points and a penalty of -10 for an incorrect answer. There is no second chance.  There is no penalty for an incorrect answer in the final round.

Subsequent legs follow exactly the same format with 3 rounds each as described. In the final leg with only 2 teams competing, the second chance point scheme still applies, but obviously there is no need for the second team to “buzz in”. Also in the second and 3rd legs it is reasonable to have 3 assigned questions per team in the assigned question round.

SEG Support

  1. Provide limited assistance to the Student Chapter in organizing the Local/Regional Challenge Bowl
  2. Supply SEG Challenge Bowl logo for particular CB / region
  3. Supply Question set for Challenge Bowl, point system and score sheet
  4. Supply buzzer set (if possible) or instructions to operate without the buzzer system

(note that buzzer set will not be shipped overseas.  Must be hand-carried by SEG staff)

  1. Assist Student Chapter to promote via mass email to Student Chapter members in the appropriate region
  2. List event on SEG website 
  3. Order and ship plaques and T-shirts (if requested); local society/chapter to pay costs
  4. Make travel arrangements for regional winners to attend SEG Annual Meeting (if requested) and send bills to local society/chapter at the end of the year
  5. Announce winners on SEG website (whenever possible)
  6. Submit brief write-up of event (and/or photos) to Web Content to possibly publish on SEG website upon receipt of the same from the Student Chapter
  7. Send letter to support application of travel visa to Annual Meeting
  8. List regional sponsors on poster at CB Finals at Annual Meeting

2020 Challege Bowl Winners: 1st place winning team represents University of Toronto, Adam Brudner and Afeez Popoola; 2nd place team represents University of Naples, Luigi Bianco and Salvatore Buoninfante


8801 S. Yale Ave. Suite 500
Tulsa, OK 74137
Phone: 918-497-5500
Email: [email protected]

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