Burke Museum seeks trivia geeks
Burke Trivia Night goes down every first Thursday night of the month at University Way's College Inn Pub.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Test yourselfHow well would you do on Burke Trivia Night? Here are some sample questions:
1. A new dinosaur discovery published by British paleontologists was named "Brontomerus," which translates to which of the following: A: Large stomper B: Goose legs C: Thunder thighs D: Monstrous head
2. What is the name of the green pigment found in plants that absorbs light and allows for photosynthesis to occur?
3. Of all the animals you can see at the Woodland Park Zoo, what single-word mammal would score the most points on a Scrabble board, assuming no bonuses and an unlimited amount of tiles?
4. This green amphibian is native to every county of Washington and is the official state amphibian of Washington. What is it?
5. Which species has the longest horizontal jump of any on earth?
Answers: 1. c; 2. Chlorophyll; 3. Hippopotamus; 4. Pacific tree frog, or the Pacific chorus frog; 5. Snow leopard
Burke Trivia Night8 p.m. Thursday, College Inn Pub, 4006 University Way N.E., Seattle; $5 per team; (www.washington.edu/burkemuseum/event/trivia)
Honor was at stake — if only they could answer this question on dinosaurs.
The scene was University Way's College Inn Pub. Every month, on the first Thursday, scores of scientists, grad students and trivia hounds pack the pub for Burke Trivia Night.
The event was started by the University of Washington's Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, which usually brings in a K-12 crowd, to attract young adults interested in science.
And where does one find young adults?
In bars, says trivia-night founder Julia Swan, 26: "So we thought, why not bring the museum to the bar?"
The popular night has been around since October 2009 and has drawn more than 100 people each time. Many, like Leilani Nussman, coordinate their schedules around the night.
"We got here an hour early and we're still stuck in this little corner in the back," said Nussman, a 29-year-old teacher.
Last month, there was hardly room to walk through the back of the bar, where backpacks were strewn all over the floor and contestants were clustered, gulping beers and snacking on nachos. They were mostly graduate students with science backgrounds, sporting colorful, nerdy science T-shirts. Swan's had a T-rex with wings on it.
Matt Harris, 26, assistant director of the UW Dream Project, is a regular. He was decked out in a fuzzy wolf hat, matching the rest of his team, called "The Sexy Husky Paws." Sitting close by were the "Coprolites," a team named after fossilized feces. Made up of biology teaching assistants from UW, they professed to know more about biology than everyone else, not only answering questions with the common names of animals, but adding their scientific names as well.
For $5 a team, made up of a maximum of six people, contestants can play a whole night. The winning team gets drink vouchers and other prizes.
"We take it very seriously," said Anne Nichols, 32, a zoo keeper from Woodland Park Zoo.
Her team, made up of zoo colleagues, was named the "Dirty DeBrazzas," in honor of a monkey species. After each question, they huddled, writing down their thoughts to share instead of discussing them, so other teams couldn't listen in.
That night the Woodland Park Zoo was guest-hosting — a new tradition — and the staff brought in a question that necessitated zip-lock bags. Five bags showcased the droppings of five animals, and contestants had to guess which came from what — from small (goat) to large (elephant).
Writing these questions is a science in itself, Swan said. For example, out of five questions, she said, two must be easy enough that everyone can get, two should be easy enough that half of the contestants can answer, and the last one needs to be pretty hard. It usually takes Swan and another Burke co-worker five hours to put the questions together. All the questions are scientific in nature. Don't expect any pop-culture references, especially to Paris Hilton, Swan said.
As for the dinosaur question, most teams nailed it. But the winner was a team of UW graduate students from the Earth and Space Sciences Department with the name "We're Kinda the Schist," named after metamorphic rock.
Marian Liu: 206-464-3825 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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