Young Students Flex Mental Muscle at Academic Bowl

UT Dallas Academic Bowl

Dalton Davis, Dajun Jones and Dennis Taylor from Woodridge Elementary School in DeSoto competed at the African American Male Academic Bowl. The team won the elementary school division.

More than 100 elementary and middle school students recently spent a day on the UT Dallas campus to compete in the African American Male Academic Bowl, a program designed to inspire African-American boys to learn, achieve and get excited about college.

The sixth annual quiz show-style competition drew 35 three-member teams from North Texas and Austin to test their brain power with tough questions about history, science and other topics.

The students who knew the answers won their division and took home laptops. The second-place team took home tablets.

But the biggest rewards came from the experience itself.

Texas Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, honorary chair and longtime event supporter, attended to encourage participants.

“I want to make sure you understand how special each and every one of you are,” West told the young students at the event. “We want to make certain you stay involved in this program. You have a lot of people who know that you’re special, and we want to do everything in our power to make certain you have the opportunity to succeed.”

UT Dallas President David E. Daniel also spoke at the event and wished the participants good luck.

Test Your Smarts

Are you as smart as these fifth-graders? The champions of the elementary school division of the African American Male Academic Bowl correctly answered the following:

  1. What year was the U.S. Constitution written?
  2. The group of men who wrote the Constitution was known as ____ .
  3. In 1974, the discovery of the skeleton named _____ in Ethiopia marks Africa as the birthplace of humanity.

    Answers: 1. 1787; 2. The Framers; 3. Lucy

The academic bowl was founded by David Robinson Jr., UT Dallas assistant director of community engagement in the Office of Diversity and Community Engagement.

“The bowl gives these students the opportunity to be among their own peers and to do something positive that can assist them in letting them know it’s OK to be smart, it’s OK not to drop out, it’s OK to advance and do well in school,” Robinson said. Now that the event is in its sixth year, organizers have seen past participants go on to college, he said.

The winning elementary team from Woodridge Elementary School in DeSoto worked after school to prepare, said Leonesea Taylor, whose son, Dennis, was one of the champions. She said the visit to UT Dallas got her son thinking about a new college possibility.

“When (Dr. Daniel) talked about UT Dallas math and science, Dennis got excited because that’s his thing,” Taylor said.

The middle school division championship included two teams from the same school: P.L. Dunbar Young Men’s Leadership Academy in Fort Worth.

“I appreciate David Robinson and UT Dallas for organizing this bowl for our young men because they get to see that hard work does pay off,” Dunbar Principal Rodney White said. He said that since the champions returned to their school, excitement about the event has grown.

“Everyone wants to come next year,” White said. “The young men are already gearing up for it.”

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].