On May 20, two teams from Mt. Hebron competed in and won the National Economics Challenge. The two teams traveled to New York City, led by Mt. Hebron Economics teacher Mr. Vann Prime.
The competition consisted of two teams at different levels. The David Ricardo team was made up of sophomores Pauline Chang, Smit Shete, Sudharsan Sundar, and Nicholas Snyder. This division is for first-time competitors who take the regular Economics course. The Adam Smith division, consisted of juniors Lorelei Loraine, Wyatt Currie, and Aditya Krishna, along with senior Chase Blanchette. Students in this division are returning members to the competition and take the offered AP level course. Teams were selected through completion of knowledge-based elimination tests. The students who performed the best were hand picked by Mr. Prime to participate in the competition.
Last year, Loraine, Currie, and Krishna competed in the David Ricardo division and did not achieve what they were hoping to, but came back this year looking for redemption.
“We won the all third last year in the lower division, and that really burned, so we really wanted to come back with a national win,” said Loraine.
In the Adam Smith division, Mt. Hebron competed against Mounds View High School from Minnesota, ending in a neck-to-neck battle with Mt. Hebron winning the championship with a score of 14 to 12.
“It didn’t really register with me. It didn’t really seem real. I felt a lot more admiration for my teammates than anything in that moment,” said Blanchette. In the David Ricardo division, the Mt. Hebron team competed against Olympia High School from Washington. In a close round, they won 11 to eight.
There are five different rounds that occur as part of the National Economics Challenge. The first three rounds are paper-based tests taken in school that generally involve answering 15 questions in 20 minutes. The teams with the highest scores move on to the next round.
Rounds four and five take place in New York City where nationals is held. Round four is a critical thinking test. Teams are provided a page-long problem to solve and have 25 minutes to create a presentation to give to the judges.
Round five, the final round, occurs between the top two teams in each division. Andrew Ross Sorkin from CNBC asks a question to both teams. Any competitor can buzz in before the question is finished being asked, but only the person who buzzed in is allowed to answer the question, and they are given five seconds to do so. If the teams wait for the question to be fully asked before buzzing in, the team that buzzes in first can discuss with their teammates for fifteen seconds before answering the question. If a team gets the question wrong, their opponents are given an opportunity to answer the question correctly and earn a point.
Mounds View High School’s eagerness and impatience when it came to the buzzer was a huge advantage for Mt. Hebron’s Adam Smith team. “We’re not super aggressive with our buzzing,” said Loraine, “but we lucked out because the other team was and that hurt them.”
Mt. Hebron’s practice and patience was a major factor when helping seal their victory. In order to prepare for the competition, the Mt. Hebron students took practice tests and practiced with the buzzer.
“It was a lot of being on the buzzer and practicing, knowing when the question is ending, and knowing if it’s a two-part question,” said Loraine.
The prizes for winning first place in the competition are $1,000 per student along with medals and trophies. Second place winners receive $500 dollars each and a second place medal.