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'Smarter than...' fundraiser nets $18K for Altrusa projects


Published: Monday, March 5, 2012 at 2:42 p.m.

So, you think you're smarter than an elementary school student?

Take a stab at these questions:

  • What formula do you use to find the area of a rectangle?
  • What part of a story introduces readers to the characters and setting?
  • What is the coefficient in the equation 3n = 18?

Scratching your head yet?


Host Kevin Christian, public relations officer for Marion County Public Schools, reacts as adult contestant Curtis Sayler celebrates his correct answer at the Are You Smarter than a ...? contest on Saturday.

These are just some of the questions posed during the third annual “Are You Smarter Than a ….?” competition held Saturday at Marion Technical Institute. The free event is sponsored by Altrusa International of Ocala.

Modeled after the “Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?” game show, six adults compete against each other answering questions in math, science, social studies and language arts, submitted by local elementary schools. Contestants are each paired with three area fifth grade students who, if called upon, can offer assistance.

Each contestant, sponsored by local businesses, takes a turn in the spotlight answering up to five questions. They start with first grade questions for 100 points and increase to 500 points for fifth grade questions.

Channeling his best inner TV game show host, Kevin Christian, public relations officer for Marion County Schools, served as host, asking the questions, getting answers from the students and helping entertain the audience.

“How about you audience? Did you get that question right?” he asked after one of the more difficult questions. “No smartphones allowed.”

The audience helped keep things entertaining as well, like this, overheard from a parent: “I don't even know what a vertice is.” (Vertices are corners.)

Tim Roberson, of BBVA Compass Bank, was the winner with 1,300 points. Roberson had a rough start, missing a question about the stars of the U.S. flag and starting with a deficit. But he correctly answered four more questions, including this: “During energy transfer, energy changes from one form to another. When you move, chemical energy changes into what form?” The answer: mechanical.

“I am hoping I'll be remembered more for winning the thing than for missing that stars question,” Roberson said after his victory.

“I had excellent lifelines,” he said of his three student winners, Caleb Unold of Ward-Highlands Elementary, Carley Crouch of Madison Street Academy and Jerry Perez of Belleview Santos Elementary. Those three, along with the other 15 helpers for the evening, are considered the top fifth grade students at their schools.

Carley Crouch said fifth grade questions are hardest. “They could be something that you haven't studied yet or something that you‘re not very good at,” she said. All submitted questions are from the Sunshine State Standards, the basis for FCAT.

Second place went to Curtis Sayler, of USA Home Inspections, sponsored by Munroe Regional Medical Center.

“It's intimidating,” he said at intermission, while leading with 900 points. “But it's a lot of fun if you don't mind possibly making a fool out of yourself in front of a lot of people.”

The hardest part? The non-multiple-choice questions. “That's when doubt starts to creep into your mind,” he said.

“I would say if you're not used to being on stage in front of people, that would be the hardest part,” said Logan Baker, a College Park Elementary fifth-grader. “But I'm used to that because I act a lot, so that was not a problem for me.”

Rounding out the contestants were last year's champ Dr. Ali Nasser, Jeff Zysek of The Fontaine Financial Group, Tim Hudgens of Signature Brands and Tim Connor of Rodeo Performance Group, sponsored by ClosetMaid.

The event raised $18,000 through sponsorships before it even began. Another $850 was raised through concession sales and a raffle that night. Proceeds will help fund the Altrusa Read-In for Literacy event, Interfaith Emergency Services Food 4 Kids Backpack Program, the purchase of eyeglasses for needy students, scholarships for area students and other projects.

“I think we had better participation this year,” said Scott Tice, Altrusa past president and co-chair of the event. “The schools really supported us this year as you saw with the great cheering sections for the students. We're very pleased.”

Oh, are you still scratching your head about those questions? The answers are: base X height; exposition; and 3.


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