Syrian refugees, neuro-enhancing drugs, political honesty and zombie outbreaks – these were just a few of the topics up for debate and discussion at this year’s Bangkok Round of the World Scholar’s Cup.
Over the weekend of 19th and 20th March, ISB students joined around 300 others from schools all over Bangkok and beyond to compete in the challenging, rigorous, demanding, alpaca-filled enrichment event that is the World Scholar’s Cup. This year’s event was hosted at Bromsgrove International School and ISB was represented by our largest team yet – made up of 52 students from across the middle and high schools.
The alpaca – in all it’s many-hued glory – is the mascot of WSC
Some of our students were returning for their second or third year of competing in WSC, but over half of our teams were discovering the power of the pwaa for the first time. (Pwaa is the sound of a happy alpaca – the WSC mascot).
Students have been preparing for the event by studying the six inter-related subjects belonging to this year’s theme – An Imperfect World:
In Science, students have been learning about disease and public health, including epidemiology, historical responses to psychological disorders, the political implications of health crises, and famous disease outbreaks.
In Social Studies, the teams have studied fragile and failing states, including historical and current examples and the tools used to measure and assess failing states, as well as to consider some selected readings from Machiavelli, Rousseau and Hobbes.
First-timers Rory, Pun & Ken came third in the team debate event
In History, students have engaged with the fascinating and always relevant history of cheating and have considered examples across many different domains including art, sports, politics, education and business.
Short stories by Roald Dahl, John Green, Isaac Asimov and Haruki Murakami were featured in the Literature subject area, along with a diverse collection of poems by the likes of Pablo Neruda, Oscar Wilde, Shakespeare and Langston Hughes.
The Art and Music subject area challenged students to engage with an eclectic collection of art related to the theme by artists such as Banksy, Brandon Stanton, Ai Weiwei, Vermeer and Caravaggio, along with music selections by Johnny Cash, Dire Straits, John Williams and Bastille.
This year’s Special Area focused on Crime and Justice, asking students to study notorious crimes and criminals, both fictional and real, as well as historical and modern legal systems and approaches to justice, the role of the International Criminal Court, anthropological, psychological and social perspectives on crime, and elements of forensic science.
Our students were successful across a range of different team and individual categories
During the competition at the weekend, students worked in teams of three to write persuasive essays, participate in three rounds of debate, complete a gruelling 120 question exam, and compete in the Scholar’s Bowl – an interactive multimedia quiz bowl with every team in the auditorium equipped with clickers, and which this year featured a novel ‘cheating’ round.
The World Scholar’s Cup curriculum is always demanding and rigorous, but also engaging and relevant. Students are motivated to study these topics because of their intrinsic interest and importance to our global society. With such a broad range of subjects and topics, successful teams work together to pool their knowledge and expertise. In our preparation for the Bangkok Round all of our teams contributed to developing a shared understanding of the subject matter, and helped each other to practice the vital skills of debate and persuasion. This collaborative approach paid off as this year’s Round was ISB’s most successful yet.
Reika, Wendy & Yunice were the Champion Team overall and had success in many other categories
After two full days of competition and community building, our teams were rewarded at the closing ceremony with a most impressive haul of medals and trophies. There are simply too many awards and accolades to list here, but some highlights include:
In the Junior Division:
5 of the top 10 champion teams were from ISB, including the Overall Champion Team
6 of the top 10 overall individuals were from ISB, including 1st, 2nd and 3rd
Every single team event was won by an ISB team
Ava, Shubha & Mudmee took second place in the overall team competition (among many other awards)
Every single individual event was won by an ISB student
In the Senior Division:
ISB teams finished in the top 10 in the Scholar’s Challenge, Team Debate, Team Writing and Overall Champion Teams
ISB students finished in the top 10 in all of the individual events
A complete list of ISB’s results can be accessed here.
As a result of their phenomenal success, most of our ISB teams have qualified to advance to the World Scholar’s Cup Global Round in June, which this year will be held right here in Bangkok.
While it may be An Imperfect World, the performance of our ISB teams at this year’s Bangkok Round was nothing short of perfection! Congratulations to all of our ISB scholars for your effort, achievements and sheer pwaasomeness!
The Teams – Junior Division
Reika Herman, Wendy O-Charoenrat, Yunice Kim
Katie, Madison & Laxmi were the Champion Writing Team
Ava Alam, Shubha Narayan, Mudmee Sereeyothin
Tommy Real, Jacob Foster, Nevaan Bawa
Katie Werner, Madison Mehta, Laxmi Giri
Vishnu Susheer, Craig Dawe, Zwe Latt
Damien Zaman, Jai Thampakkul, David Qian
Earth Mokkamakkul, Jingmin Wang, Grand Tantichot
Pun Danchaivichit, Ken Muangsiri, Rory Switala
Praj Chirathivat, Motto Sereeyothin, Nick Visuthikosol
Using alpacas as a ‘thinking cap’ is highly encouraged
Brandon Lin, Finley Greenwood, Caden Lin
Anna Phetsompou, Serena Mehta, Pleng Kruesopon
Sohee Yim, Nina Choophungart, Nadia Choophungart
Pop Chanwong, Denise Lee, Namwan Kulsetsophon
The Teams – Senior Division
Daiki Shinomiya, Binvant Broca, Krit Chanwong
Angelina Haney, Sophia Zaman, Proud Taranat
David Bredin, Nop Phongpetra, Ben Phipathananunth
Agam Bedi, Jerry Cho, (Jira Siritrinetkamol – Wells International School)
Troy Chensri, Jing Wongsrinoppakun, (Allesandro Prugel – NIST International School)
Thank you to Matthew Kelly, Stan Covington and Brian Jackson who came along on Saturday to help support our teams and serve as debate adjudicators.
Thank you to Matthew Savage and the team at Bromsgrove International School Thailand for hosting this prestigious event.
Thank you to the entire World Scholar’s Cup team for continuing to #spreadthepwaa and for bringing such a joyous celebration of learning to our city.
Check out more photos from this incredible weekend of learning below.
A group of nine Middle School students will test their mettle this weekend as St. Michaels University School participates in the World Scholar’s Cup competition for the first time ever.
The academically inclined group has been cramming this week for the one-day event that covers a wide range of subjects, including science, history, literature, arts and social studies.
Middle School teacher Ms. Catherine Cade only found out about the competition two weeks ago, but when she presented the opportunity to students, there was a group eager enough to participate on short notice.
“I think that really speaks to who these kids are. The World Scholar’s Cup website recommends two to eight weeks to prepare for it, and these students knew they had less than two weeks and they still really wanted to go for the experience,” Catherine says.
“We all know this is our first go at it, so we’re doing it for fun,” says Grade 8 student Paris I.
What is for certain, though, is the World Scholar’s Cup is a pretty intense day-long competition.
The event features four different rounds that test students’ skills in public speaking, critical thinking, teamwork, reading comprehension and knowledge retention. Students are divided into teams of three and work together to compete.
The four rounds are:
- Team Debate – Teams get 15 minutes to research and prep for three different debates, the specific subjects of which could be literature- or science-related;
- Scholar’s Bowl – Teams work together to solve progressively harder questions in this live trivia game;
- Collaborative Writing – Teams get to debate using the written word. While there is some prep time together, team members will then have to each write a persuasive essay on a different topic;
- Scholar’s Challenge – Each team member is on their own for this multiple choice exam that spans all the subjects and all the topics.
Students don’t go into the World Scholar’s Cup completely blind. They know that the theme of this year’s event is “An Imperfect World” and they’re all provided a huge list of recommended reading material or topics to study – from the Japanese mafia and the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic to Victor Vasnetov’s Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and the failure of the Weimar Republic.
“It just sounds like a really fun opportunity that involves a lot of different skill sets that are pretty essential, like public speaking, debate and collaborative writing. And it’s going to be a fun opportunity to apply those skills in a fun competition scenario,” says Grade 8 student Amelia H. “It’s a little nerve-wracking not knowing if we’re going to be debating literature or writing about it, for example, so you have to have an open mindset when you’re studying.”
“It’s going to be a unique experience because there are so many aspects packed into one tournament,” adds Seung C.
Paris, Amelia and Seung all say they’ve enjoyed studying a wide range of topics, and are looking forward to coming away from the experience having gained some new knowledge and firsthand experience testing their academic skill set.
“I decided this would be a really good improvement opportunity. I’ve never really debated before, so I’m looking forward to having that experience,” Paris says.
The event takes place Saturday at Brentwood College. World Scholar’s Cup regional competitions take place in more than 40 countries around the world, involving thousands of talented students. The event culminates in a Global Round, which takes place in Thailand in June, followed by a Tournament of Champions event at Yale University in November.
Good luck to all of our Middle School scholars!
Kyle Slavin is the school's storyteller. Through words and photos, he shares with the community all the amazing things that happen on campus.