2015 Intl. History Olympiad July 9-15

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2015 Intl. History Olympiad July 9-15

Postby Great Bustard » Wed Aug 13, 2014 6:30 am

The International History Bee and Bowl is delighted to announce that the inaugural International History Olympiad is confirmed to be held at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia on July 9-15, 2015. We will be announcing full program within a month or so, but the dates are set, and we look forward to taking full advantage of a great venue. We are exploring a collaboration with Colonial Williamburg and the possibility of an end of stay visit to Busch Gardens among other events. The costs will be announced shortly and will be posted here when available. Registration will likely open in September; we will be getting in touch with all students who qualified at the 2014 US National Championships and our overseas competitions. A statement regarding our middle school qualification policy will likewise be available shortly. Students can still qualify for the 2015 Olympiad at the 2015 US National Championships and our overseas tournaments; those who qualify in 2015 will also qualify for the 2016 Olympiad. Students can attend both - there's no need to limit it to one, or to have to requalify, though those who requalify in 2015 will then also qualify for the 2016 Olympiad (qualification will always be valid for two years). Students who graduated high school in 2014 but who qualified are welcome to come and compete, even after one year of college.
At the conclusion of the Olympiad, IHBB will also be organizing a tour from Washington, DC to Boston for approximately 7-8 days, which will allow students to do lots of sightseeing and visit colleges along the way. The tour dates, program, and costs will be announced in the early fall, but we expect to allow students the chance to visit about 10-20 colleges and universities in the Northeast US. College visits will run simultaneously with sightseeing activities, so that if students are not interested in visiting a college, or indeed, any colleges, there will still be a full program of activities. We anticipate that the tour will be of greatest interest to students from overseas, but of course, US students are welcome to attend as well.
For further questions, post below or email me. We look forward to a great week of competition next summer!
Last edited by Great Bustard on Mon Dec 01, 2014 2:13 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: 2015 Intl. History Olympiad @ William & Mary, July 9-15

Postby Great Bustard » Tue Sep 16, 2014 11:23 pm

The draft schedule for the 2015 International History Olympiad has now been posted at www.historyolympiad.com Please have a look and let me know your thoughts, either here in this forum, or by email or private message. We're looking to finalize things by the end of October, so if there's anything you'd like to see changed/adjusted, or have any advice/comments/etc. now's the best time for that. A dedicated website for the Olympiad will be online by November 1, which is when we will look to open registration for it as well.
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Re: 2015 Intl. History Olympiad @ William & Mary, July 9-15

Postby Cold Stone Steve Austin » Wed Sep 17, 2014 12:57 am

Is hextathlon a word? In any case, I like the word hexathlon much better.
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Re: 2015 Intl. History Olympiad @ William & Mary, July 9-15

Postby Great Bustard » Mon Oct 13, 2014 1:01 am

An update regarding costs and planning for the Olympiad:

The exact prices for the Olympiad will be posted by November 1, and the exact prices for the tour of the Northeast USA at the end by December 31. The Olympiad will cost approximately between $1,070 and 1,250 per participant and the tour, between 1,500 and 2,000 USD per participant. The price ranges for the Olympiad depend on whether a student chooses double or single occupancy and a room with or without air conditioning. The prices for the tour depend on whether a student selects double or quad occupancy.

The Olympiad begins on the afternoon of July 9. Students should plan on arriving at William and Mary no later than 2pm. We will provide transfers for a fee from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Baltimore Washington International Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport, as well as Richmond International Airport and Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport. Accommodation on the 8 and meals before dinner on the 9 can be covered but there will be an additional fee for this.

In terms of departing, the Olympiad will end by mid-afternoon on July 15. If you are flying out of a DC area airport, don't book before 9pm that night. If your flight leaves from Richmond or Newport News, it can leave from 7pm. We will be able to provide transfers to airports that day and on the following day, as well as accommodation on the 15, for extra.

If you take the tour, it will leave directly from Williamsburg as soon as the Olympiad concludes. It will stop in all the major cities of the Northeastern USA, concluding in Boston in the early morning of July 23. You will be able to fly out of Boston at any time on July 23. The exact activities on the tour have yet to be planned, but they will involve a number of sightseeing activities and an opportunity to visit 15-20 well-known colleges and universities including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Penn and Georgetown. It will include breakfast but not lunch and dinner with the exception of a farewell dinner, so you should bring about 25 to 35 USD per day to cover that and incidentals.
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Re: 2015 Intl. History Olympiad @ William & Mary, July 9-15

Postby Frater Taciturnus » Mon Oct 13, 2014 6:50 pm

Great Bustard wrote: The price ranges for the Olympiad depend on whether a student chooses double or single occupancy and a room with or without air conditioning.


As someone who has endured far too many Virginia summers, I strongly advise participants in this event try to get the rooms WITH air conditioning.
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Re: 2015 Intl. History Olympiad @ William & Mary, July 9-15

Postby Great Bustard » Mon Oct 13, 2014 9:52 pm

Interestingly, William and Mary told us that foreign groups who have come to the campus in past summers and were put in rooms with air conditioning then asked to be moved OUT of them. Fwiw, students will be allowed to bring fans, if that helps, and I will ask about the possibility of portable a/c units too. I should know how many rooms of each type we will have within a few days. I will post that here and to the Olympiad website when the new version launches in a few weeks.
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Re: 2015 Intl History Olympiad July 9-15: Registration Open

Postby Great Bustard » Mon Dec 01, 2014 2:12 am

The new website of the International History Olympiad is now online at http://www.historyolympiad.com The new website contains lots of additional information on the competitions and events on offer, and qualified students can now register on the site as well. Please direct Olympiad related questions to nolwenn@historybowl.com though I will continue to answer forum posts related to the Olympiad here. See you in Williamsburg!
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Re: 2015 Intl. History Olympiad July 9-15: Registration Open

Postby Great Bustard » Fri Dec 19, 2014 4:41 am

We've just received our first two Olympiad registrations - from the UAE and Singapore. If you've qualified, come and defend the honor of your state against the world!
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Re: 2015 Intl. History Olympiad July 9-15: Registration Open

Postby Citizen Snips » Thu May 28, 2015 3:27 am

I noticed on the website that lodging comes on a first come first served basis. What types of rooms are still available? Will there be an update when one type of room becomes unavailable?
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Re: 2015 Intl. History Olympiad July 9-15: Registration Open

Postby Great Bustard » Fri May 29, 2015 12:33 am

All types of rooms are still available and will not sell out. Having gone down to William and Mary today, I can confirm this. 80% of people are choosing double occupancy w/air conditioning for what that's worth. We have plenty of rooms of all types.
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Re: 2015 Intl. History Olympiad July 9-15: Registration Open

Postby Great Bustard » Fri May 29, 2015 12:33 am

As an addendum, an email is going out tomorrow to everyone who has signed up or expressed interest with further details.
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Re: 2015 Intl. History Olympiad July 9-15: Registration Open

Postby Citizen Snips » Sun Jul 05, 2015 7:09 pm

I was just looking over the final schedule. Has the hextathlon been replaced by Table Combined?
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Re: 2015 Intl. History Olympiad July 9-15: Registration Open

Postby Great Bustard » Mon Jul 06, 2015 8:10 pm

No, as mentioned in an email, they'll be coordinated so that they go on during the same afternoon time slot. There's 4.5 hours in that block, and the hextathlon won't take more than 2.5 hours more to do. That should leave sufficient time for Table Combined. We're still tallying up the sign ups, but we'll make sure it all works out for all divisions.
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Re: 2015 Intl. History Olympiad July 9-15: Registration Open

Postby Haaaaaaaarry Whiiiiiiiiiite » Sun Jul 19, 2015 6:03 pm

I happened to be free last weekend, so I ended up going down to Williamsburg to help out IHO for a bit. Here are a few observations from what I saw of the event, plus from talking to other staffers:

The initial plan was to play the full national anthem or state song of each gold medalist for every event. Considering there were a total of 65 gold medals awarded, and that several of these anthems/state songs ran over three minutes long, about half an hour per day would have been spent listening to anthems. Thankfully the person who ran A/V was saner and cut off the music when people were getting bored of it.

Some of the bee events just made no sense. The "20th Century Military History Bee" was originally a World War I bee, which was scrapped only because the emergency question writers pointed out that expecting there to be 120 answerlines that middle schoolers could feasibly get was absurd. The Rock and Roll Bee was also particularly egregious, as in the finals, only 13 out of 30 tossups were answered in the JV division. It wasn't a competition of knowledge as much as it was "Do you listen to the music that your parents grew up to?" There were many questions that were way too hard for the field, but it can probably be excused somewhat by the last-minute writing crunch.

One of the staffers halfway through the MS Military Bee finals decided with no warning or checking with anyone else to change the format to eliminate all but three players after tossup 20 and reset the scores to zero for the final questions. This caused the player who had the most points in the finals to not win.

The Bowl logistics were unenviable at best. There were 24 staffers for 22 rooms (and I heard that Dave had only planned for 20 staffers total), and the competition took place over several buildings up to a 15-minute walk from tournament HQ. Stats were supposed to be uploaded to a website with no oversight or anyone to double-check the numbers, so it came to no surprise when a bunch of the scoresheets were wrong, and some rooms didn't even have Internet access to report scores.

For the Colonial Williamsburg trip, Dave bought several student tickets and hoped that the (adult) staffers "looked young enough".

The scheduling made for some rather long days. Everyone had to report in by 8 AM every day, and events would end around 9:45 (usually in a race to avoid being kicked out by security). In some cases, between all the subject bees, the activities, and the medal ceremonies, people only had 30 minutes for meals. In one case, it turned out that there was no meeting scheduled before the Bowl to make sure everyone knew the rules, so several events had to be pushed forward half an hour to compensate on short notice. Some of the students weren't aware of this, and ended up missing their games in the process.

I will have to give a lot of credit to some of the staffers, though. Brad, Ankit, and company were up way past midnight pretty much every night finishing up and editing the packets that needed to be ready for the next day. Yeah, it sucks that they had to do everything last-minute, but they did get it done. There were also a lot of teachers helping out who had a good idea of how to handle a hundred kids from around the world, which was a necessity for this event.

I've been told that the kids got to enjoy meeting people from around the world and that they liked a lot of the non-bowl/bee stuff.

Next year, IHO is planned to be held in Hawaii. I think it's safe to say that the event cannot be described as a competition to find out who the best history students in the world are. Instead, it's a history-themed week-long summer camp for people who are good at history and (more importantly) have parents who are willing to shell out $2000 to send their kids off for a week or so.
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Re: 2015 Intl. History Olympiad July 9-15: Registration Open

Postby Great Bustard » Mon Jul 20, 2015 12:19 am

Very briefly, I'm in the middle of the post-Olympiad tour, and will post some thoughts next week once I have time to decompress. I do not believe though that Harry's post begins to really tell the full story of what the week was like (and I don't see the sense in speculating about price or the program for next year until I announce it - for one, it's not going to cost $2000), and I will say that I am very happy with how the Olympiad went. Others are of course welcome to comment.
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Re: 2015 Intl. History Olympiad July 9-15: Registration Open

Postby Irreligion in Bangladesh » Mon Jul 20, 2015 12:50 am

I've had my chance to decompress, so I've put my thoughts together here. I'm sure David's got stuff to add to this -- my jobs in IHO were pretty much limited to organizing and operating the quizbowl events, with the exception of the Civilization tournament. Here are my notes (and I'm typing this up at a family get-together, so apologies when this rambles):

* Having a full year to plan the question writing is going to make the job so much easier -- not just in the obvious sense of "2000 questions in 3 weeks is crazy," but also in having time to experiment with and properly handle the possible side events. The World War I set was re-worked into 20th century military history when our writer was unable to finish their assignment -- while our writer had a complete set of WW1 answer lines, it wouldn't have been possible to binge-write that set well in the time crunch we had, so we took the easier, saner route. The broader scope allowed us to get the job done in time, and it certainly helped conversion. I want to thank Eric Xu, Jason Flowers, Arthur Lee, Ankit Aggarwal, and Sean Smiley for their awesome last-minute help with that.

* On that note, "having one person solo write a side event" is a model that we won't be repeating next year. A couple of the IHO side events (WW1 included) were given to single writers well in advance of the three-week binge (tbe others weren't because, I assume, David hadn't had opportunity to find willing writers). While we're happy with the work those writers did, assigning 140 questions on a single topic to a single writer doesn't lead to the same level of quality that collaborative sets have. I'd rather see communication and feedback, and that'll be happening on the side events for next IHO.

* One thing that really blew my mind about this week, though, was the quality of the players, especially the international players. A 140-question WW1 set is emphatically not the best idea...but I'm convinced that, had we run it, it would have played OK with this audience because the kids studied well for seemingly everything this week. The Singapore middle school team played at the level of a middle-high 6-4 HSNCT team (of course, they wouldn't go 6-4 at an actual HSNCT because the distribution isn't just history), and the next couple MS teams were not far behind them. The Ancient History event, in particular, hit a level somewhere between ACF Regs and Nats. The MS finals had better than 70% conversion at it, with the winner first-lining two tossups and a sizeable amount of questions being answered before FTP. Is this what a well-polished set should be aiming to do? Heavens, no! And I have a full year to organize the next iteration, so it won't be happening again. I don't think we're going to do WW1 next year -- I'd much rather see another broader military history event -- but, for this year, the kids really enjoyed the challenges and it was fun to watch.

* The ability to get international players competing with American players was incredible -- having the occasional international school at a Nationals doesn't hold a candle to the experience we had this past week. Pyramidal quizbowl is well on its way to becoming a global event; there's room for growth for 20/20 formatted, full academic distribution quizbowl overseas, and I hope we start seeing that growth soon.

* I'm looking forward to having more staff for IHO 2. In particular, the summer camp comparison is apt; you need dedicated staff members to run the events and dedicated staff members to make sure the kids get from point A to point B safely, and most of the time, our staff did both. We made it work, but it was more stressful than optimal. Helping with that, though -- I'm hoping that, next year, if our accommodations allow for shorter walks between buildings, and because our question writing will be completely in the can before I get on the plane, we'll naturally have an easier time of it. So the number of additional staff is probably not that high -- but it's still important.

* Bunnie and Nolwenn deserve a ton of praise for all they did to get the staff the instruction and help they needed. When staffers needed time to rest and recover, we got it (especially, for me, after a third-straight 4 AM editing wrapup).

* The schedule was packed incredibly tightly - meals were assigned the bare minimum amount of time in the schedule, and events ran all the way from 8 AM to 10 PM. The start and end times felt appropriate given the expense and effort needed to attend, and were actually less intensive compared to other summer camp events I've been a part of (both quizbowl and non-quizbowl). The kids were given ample opportunity for breaks and instruction to take them - the side events were entirely opt-in, the afternoon events were non-quizbowl for variety's sake - and I didn't hear from any of the players like they felt there was too much to do. My main suggestion is to give more time for meals.


The first IHO can be pretty well described as a successful summer camp-esque event. The kids had a blast, things went off without too many hitches, and we've got a lot of ideas on how to improve next year's event. But the question of "is this a prestigious event or is this a summer camp" is a worthwhile one. As the guy in charge of the questions, I don't care where the opinion lands; we're going to write the questions the same either way, and we're aiming high. (Especially now that I've seen the level of the international players.) As a staffer, I hope it gets more serious in the upper ranks while maintaining the best parts of the summer camp feel that this week had; the kids really enjoyed the atmosphere, the activities, and the competition. As the event grows, I think I'd like the size and importance of the Bee and Bowl events to grow at the expense of some of the side events (perhaps by making them smaller than 140 questions each), but that's a conversation still to be had.

I think Joe Su hit it on the nose a few weeks ago -- the IHO can absolutely bring the elite players together for the Olympiad competition together with the non-elite competitors for the experience. The two can co-exist in the same camp -- they did so marvelously this week -- so I'm patient and I'm enjoying what we've done so far.
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Re: 2015 Intl. History Olympiad July 9-15: Registration Open

Postby jonpin » Mon Jul 20, 2015 8:29 am

Great Bustard wrote:Very briefly, I'm in the middle of the post-Olympiad tour, and will post some thoughts next week once I have time to decompress. I do not believe though that Harry's post begins to really tell the full story of what the week was like (and I don't see the sense in speculating about price or the program for next year until I announce it - for one, it's not going to cost $2000), and I will say that I am very happy with how the Olympiad went. Others are of course welcome to comment.


Getting to Hawai'i ain't free.
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Re: 2015 Intl. History Olympiad July 9-15: Registration Open

Postby Great Bustard » Mon Jul 20, 2015 9:11 am

jonpin wrote:
Great Bustard wrote:Very briefly, I'm in the middle of the post-Olympiad tour, and will post some thoughts next week once I have time to decompress. I do not believe though that Harry's post begins to really tell the full story of what the week was like (and I don't see the sense in speculating about price or the program for next year until I announce it - for one, it's not going to cost $2000), and I will say that I am very happy with how the Olympiad went. Others are of course welcome to comment.


Getting to Hawai'i ain't free.


No, but we're considering travel discounts / full airfare as a possible prize for the top students at Nationals / International Championships so that the top students in the world are able to attend which would go a long way towards avoiding the situation Harry was envisioning.
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Re: 2015 Intl. History Olympiad July 9-15

Postby Cody » Thu Jul 23, 2015 12:35 am

And what percent of IHO attendees are "top players"? (as in people who actually go - not who gets inferred discounts) Ah, yes.
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Re: 2015 Intl. History Olympiad July 9-15: Registration Open

Postby Benin Rebirth Party » Thu Jul 23, 2015 7:14 pm

Public safety diving wrote:Some of the bee events just made no sense. The "20th Century Military History Bee" was originally a World War I bee, which was scrapped only because the emergency question writers pointed out that expecting there to be 120 answerlines that middle schoolers could feasibly get was absurd.


Matt Weiner originally said this set was supposed to be something like 1/2 HS nats level and 1/2 anything goes.
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Re: 2015 Intl. History Olympiad July 9-15: Registration Open

Postby Great Bustard » Mon Jul 27, 2015 11:48 am

As mentioned earlier, there were a number of misconceptions in this post. I am correcting them / explaining further as needed.

Public safety diving wrote:I happened to be free last weekend, so I ended up going down to Williamsburg to help out IHO for a bit. Here are a few observations from what I saw of the event, plus from talking to other staffers:
The initial plan was to play the full national anthem or state song of each gold medalist for every event. Considering there were a total of 65 gold medals awarded, and that several of these anthems/state songs ran over three minutes long, about half an hour per day would have been spent listening to anthems. Thankfully the person who ran A/V was saner and cut off the music when people were getting bored of it.


Most anthems were decidedly shorter to begin with. There were a few (e.g. O Canada) that we always played in full since they were widely known and it would have been gauche to cut them off in the middle. But for most, one verse made sense and didn't take too long. If a student was on the podium for the first time, if it was early in the week, or if it was a particularly prestigious event, we typically played the music a little longer. While I'm sure some people got somewhat tired of some of the songs some of the time, the ability to have an impressive awards ceremony was a highlight of the Olympiad, and I'd like to thank Bunnie Hadsall, John Garner, Steve Muench, and Tom Kelso in particular for their work in helping to organize these.

Public safety diving wrote: Some of the bee events just made no sense. The "20th Century Military History Bee" was originally a World War I bee, which was scrapped only because the emergency question writers pointed out that expecting there to be 120 answerlines that middle schoolers could feasibly get was absurd. The Rock and Roll Bee was also particularly egregious, as in the finals, only 13 out of 30 tossups were answered in the JV division. It wasn't a competition of knowledge as much as it was "Do you listen to the music that your parents grew up to?" There were many questions that were way too hard for the field, but it can probably be excused somewhat by the last-minute writing crunch.


This is not what happened with the Military History Bee. The original idea was that rather than having a general military history bee each year at the Olympiad, there would be a particular focus from one year to the next. Was World War I a narrow topic? Sure, but with literally six months + to prepare for it for those interested, the notion of a tournament on WW I specifically is far from absurd. As an aside, the MS scramble on an even more narrowly construed topic with little background knowledge and time to prepare saw roughly 75% conversion, so that's not really the issue.
The switch from WW I to 20th century came about primarily because the writer who was responsible for the set (an experienced quiz bowler who should have known better) repeatedly was unresponsive to emails from Brad and me about the status of the set, even though he had claimed to have it written. Ultimately, he did submit a high volume of questions, but Brad and I made a decision to open up the writing of this and make it broader both to make it easier on the writers and because we thought it might help conversion. At the same time, about 1/3 of this Bee was left as WW I to reward those who had been studying it. In practice, this Bee played out very well - no one seemed to really mind about the switch in focus, and the players who played the set gave it good reviews.
As for Rock and Roll, there were a few students who did very well with it, and there were plenty of answerlines from 1990 onwards (it was hardly all parental music). Next year, though, we're going to switch this to Popular Music History which should solve the issue of conversion there. Nearly all the other Bee events (aside from Ancient being a bit too hard, and sports being a bit too US focused) went over more or less just as we had envisioned. With far more time to generate the sets, next year's IHO quiz bowl sets should be even better, but overall, the questions went over very well. A big thank you to Brad Fischer and all those who contributed to the writing effort.

Public safety diving wrote: One of the staffers halfway through the MS Military Bee finals decided with no warning or checking with anyone else to change the format to eliminate all but three players after tossup 20 and reset the scores to zero for the final questions. This caused the player who had the most points in the finals to not win.


I had announced in advance to those who were running the Military Bee finals the format of the finals; I'm not sure why it wasn't announced earlier to the MS finalists. We tried this method of doing the Bee finals, and it didn't go over well, so we didn't use this finals method subsequently. But saying this is a huge issue is a red herring. By analogy, this situation can happen at Nationals in that whoever scores highest in the first few stages of the finals (and thus gets the most overall points in the finals) doesn't score highest in the last stage and thus doesn't win. No one has ever made a big issue of it there, but whatever, we simply just won't use this format at the Olympiad.

Public safety diving wrote: The Bowl logistics were unenviable at best. There were 24 staffers for 22 rooms (and I heard that Dave had only planned for 20 staffers total), and the competition took place over several buildings up to a 15-minute walk from tournament HQ. Stats were supposed to be uploaded to a website with no oversight or anyone to double-check the numbers, so it came to no surprise when a bunch of the scoresheets were wrong, and some rooms didn't even have Internet access to report scores.


First off, the Bowl was split up over 3 days, and while the layout of William and Mary was suboptimal, the fact that it took place over a number of buildings was the only way it could work. William and Mary charged exorbitant rates for classrooms but gave us the common spaces for free. Once a team competed in one building on a particular day, they did not have to switch buildings (so this was really no different from any other event). All the scoresheets were double checked and clarified before the next round of rebracketing (which was always on a subsequent day), so this also ended up not being an issue. As for 20 staffers, yes, that was the plan when there were still only 80 or so students signed up. Since we had no benchmark for Olympiad registration numbers, and we kept registration open until July 1 to be flexible, I then augmented the number of staffers as needed. Having each staffer at the Olympiad was quite expensive due to travel, room, and food costs, so it makes sense that I wouldn't want to have had excess staff. On top of that, one staffer left midweek due to an emergency situation, and two other experienced people who were lined up to staff and who I normally can rely on bailed at the 11th hour.

Public safety diving wrote: For the Colonial Williamsburg trip, Dave bought several student tickets and hoped that the (adult) staffers "looked young enough".

Yes, because some of the staffers were themselves students.

Public safety diving wrote: The scheduling made for some rather long days. Everyone had to report in by 8 AM every day, and events would end around 9:45 (usually in a race to avoid being kicked out by security). In some cases, between all the subject bees, the activities, and the medal ceremonies, people only had 30 minutes for meals. In one case, it turned out that there was no meeting scheduled before the Bowl to make sure everyone knew the rules, so several events had to be pushed forward half an hour to compensate on short notice. Some of the students weren't aware of this, and ended up missing their games in the process.


Brad spoke to the fact that the schedule, on the whole, worked very well. Meals were tight, mostly due to the distance of the dining hall, but do people really need more than 30 minutes to eat cafeteria food? The number of players who missed any events due to scheduling issues was minimal all week considering that we ran over 20 events in three divisions. Most students who weren't aware of changes were typically in that position because they skipped out on mandatory meetings, didn't sign up for the Remind service, or simply forgot. This was not a systematic problem given the scope of the event.

Public safety diving wrote: I will have to give a lot of credit to some of the staffers, though. Brad, Ankit, and company were up way past midnight pretty much every night finishing up and editing the packets that needed to be ready for the next day. Yeah, it sucks that they had to do everything last-minute, but they did get it done. There were also a lot of teachers helping out who had a good idea of how to handle a hundred kids from around the world, which was a necessity for this event.


First off, this didn't happen every night (and had it not been for a rather excusable emergency situation that ate up 10 hours of my time that you were very much aware of, this would have been even less of an issue), and as Brad mentioned, staffers who were up late were often given the mornings off, and in any case, this was Brad's job (which he did very well), so what's the big deal? The staff, without exception (at least no one has said anything to me to imply otherwise, and I've been in touch with almost all staff personally since the Olympiad), had a great time and were happy they came. I am very grateful for all their efforts in ensuring a successful week.

Public safety diving wrote: I've been told that the kids got to enjoy meeting people from around the world and that they liked a lot of the non-bowl/bee stuff.


Yes, and this, combined with the fact that they liked the quiz bowl events too, is the real story of the week. More later on this.

Public safety diving wrote: Next year, IHO is planned to be held in Hawaii. I think it's safe to say that the event cannot be described as a competition to find out who the best history students in the world are. Instead, it's a history-themed week-long summer camp for people who are good at history and (more importantly) have parents who are willing to shell out $2000 to send their kids off for a week or so.


This comment is off on a number of accounts. What makes you think it cannot be described as a competition to find out who the best history students in the world are? We had an outstanding field, featuring in all three divisions, world-class players who are fit to be considered the champions of the competitions they competed in. Any Olympiad is at some level going to run into the issue of trying to ensure that the best students in the world compete, especially for subjects like history, where it's not as cut and dry as it is for quantitative subjects. But keep in mind that this was also the first time the event was held, so any number of top US NHBB players in particular may have taken a wait and see approach. Now that the event is off the ground, I expect more excellent players will want in for future years, particularly as we refine and improve things further. My vision for the Olympiad is not a summer camp - it's a competition, and the vast majority of events were competitions of one sort or another. As for the cost issue, there's no way to get around the travel costs for an international event, and we need to be able to justify the Olympiad for the huge amount of work that goes into it. As I've mentioned before, it's comparable with any number of other summer programs (virtually none of which provide an opportunity to compete on an international level). And the chance to help defray the costs through achievements at Nationals and question writing makes it affordable for almost any top-flight player who puts a priority on attending, especially combined with the opportunity to qualify over a year in advance.
David Madden
Ridgewood (NJ) '99, Princeton '03
Founder and Director: International History Bee and Bowl, National History Bee and Bowl (High School Division), International History Olympiad, United States Geography Olympiad, US History Bee, US Academic Bee and Bowl, National Humanities Bee, National Science Bee, International Academic Bowl.
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Re: 2015 Intl. History Olympiad July 9-15

Postby Great Bustard » Mon Jul 27, 2015 12:00 pm

Cody wrote:And what percent of IHO attendees are "top players"? (as in people who actually go - not who gets inferred discounts) Ah, yes.

I'm not sure why you think this is a perspicacious point of criticism. The % of "top players" by any reasonable definition was higher at the Olympiad, than, say, the % of top teams at HSNCT or NHBB Nationals, where, for that matter, this also isn't a problem. The level of competition for everyone was great throughout the week - even the player who is without a doubt the best secondary school history player in the world (Bruce Lou) didn't win 6 of 11 buzzer-based events he entered, so I don't see why or how having some players who aren't at a top level in quiz bowl events really hurts anyone. In any competition, only a relative few are likely to be in medals contention - do you mean to imply that IHO (or any Olympiad, or for that matter, the Olympics themselves) should limit competitors to them? To quote Coubertin himself: "The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well."
Moreover, the Olympiad is by design and definition, more than just a big quiz bowl tournament. Some students excelled more at the other events, which is fine too, and helps encourage them to compete and in the process get better at history quiz bowl. At least the Olympiad has a major quiz bowl component, which should be (and I think is) something that lots of players appreciate.
David Madden
Ridgewood (NJ) '99, Princeton '03
Founder and Director: International History Bee and Bowl, National History Bee and Bowl (High School Division), International History Olympiad, United States Geography Olympiad, US History Bee, US Academic Bee and Bowl, National Humanities Bee, National Science Bee, International Academic Bowl.
Adviser and former head coach for Team USA at the International Geography Olympiad
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Re: 2015 Intl. History Olympiad July 9-15

Postby Great Bustard » Mon Jul 27, 2015 1:04 pm

Aside from the above comments, I wanted to add a few final words about the Olympiad. First, I'd like to thank all the participants and their families for their trust in us to put together an inaugural event that you spent a very significant amount of time and money to compete in. That really does mean a lot to me, and encourages me on a daily basis to keep working on NHBB/IHBB/IHO to make them worth your while. Overall, for an initial stab at a very ambitious competition, I was very pleased with how things went. Obviously, there are things we will look to do differently for next year - expecting that everything would go 100% ideally was never our goal, nor do I think that's what anyone thought would happen. We have sent a feedback survey to all the competitors and have asked the staff for their input as well, and we will be taking all that into account going forward.

Still, there's actually very little in the overall gestalt that I think really needs changing for next year and beyond. The length of the Olympiad seemed to be just about right, the mix of quiz bowl / non-quiz bowl competitions / and other events seemed fine, and there weren't any obvious systematic problems during the week where I think we really overlooked something important. As mentioned above, the layout of William and Mary made for some challenges, and the location of Williamsburg made shuttles difficult to organize from area airports. We expect that the next three Olympiad sites should be much closer to airports, and hopefully will have better layouts too (though there's some tradeoff between lower costs and better layouts in many cases).

One thing that the Olympiad had far more of than any other competition I've ever seen (including our own Nationals), was a sense of camaraderie and joy. That may sound maudlin to some ears, but there was a recent thread about the lack of this in college quiz bowl (one reason I myself stopped playing), and I think at times it's an issue in high school quiz bowl as well. The extended timeframe of the Olympiad allowed for far more friendships to be made, including in many cases with students from other countries, than at other competitions, and there was a remarkable degree of students encouraging and congratulating each other on their accomplishments. The medals ceremonies had particular value to add here, especially I think for younger students, and the fact that there were other events beyond quiz bowl helped ensure that many students and most affiliations won at least one medal. See here: http://www.historyolympiad.com/iho2015/medals.php for the full table.

Beyond this, to echo a point I've made elsewhere, my vision for the Olympiad is that first and foremost, it is a competition. It is not history summer camp, nor quiz bowl camp, nor practice, or whatever. In any given year, it might not be possible for an elite player to attend - that's inevitable. But I am keen on having a representative sample of the best players in the world for any given division, while allowing others who are interested to compete too. Next year, we will probably include some travel stipends as well in with the prizes at Nationals though the amount of these depends on sponsorship levels which are hard to predict. After 2016, though, we are open to the idea of doing the Olympiad every other year if that seems to make more sense given the likely number of students, and especially top players, who would come to it. Financially and logistically, it makes far more sense for us to run 1 Olympiad for 200 students rather than 2 Olympiads for 100 students each. However, if it seems a critical mass of players, especially those who are worthy of the title "world champion" are interested in coming annually (the fact that it will move around the world, combined with the travel stipend may do a lot to ensure this) then we are open to the idea of running it that often as well. In terms of what this will mean for qualification, we will likely say that students who qualify in 2015-16 can come either to the 2016 Olympiad, and for the next Olympiad (whether that is in 2017 or 2018) except that students are not able to come after more than one year of college. And farther down the road (though not for 2016), we may scrap the notion of coming back after 1 year of college altogether since only one participant took advantage of that for 2015.

Finally, I'd like to conclude by once again thanking everyone who helped make the Olympiad happen. The outstanding writing and editing team was led by Brad Fischer - Brad can comment further on specific thanks for various events. Bunnie Hadsall assisted with a wide variety of tasks (including being a leader on the post-Olympiad tour which went great for the 19 participants). Raynell Cooper led the Battery effort and helped out with all sorts of other aspects of the week. Andrew Feist was invaluable as always on stats and the website interface. Jay Wickliff was phenomenally helpful and led the Great Trading Game which many students loved competing in. Irene Ducharme helped out with students who needed extra assistance for various reasons and in maintaining the Facebook feed during the week. Scott Fowler and Cliff Roberts made the ancestry.com research competition happen and provided valuable consulting on various topics. Laura Fleming took the lead on the written exam and the Boxer Rebellion simulation, which was a hit. Arthur Lee and Eric Xu put together the Hextathlon (which got great reviews) and assisted with lots of editing where needed in other events. Jason Flowers assisted with editing, Hextathlon, and the written exam among many other things. Ted Wysor and Brad put together a great tournament out of the computer game Civilization IV, and Firaxis Games itself provided consulting for it (we had autographed copies of the game from Sid Meier to hand out to the winners!). Tom Kelso helped me out with Table Combined and volunteered his help after hours every evening. John Garner did a tremendous job with the Opening and Closing ceremonies, and Scott and Cliff helped out greatly with those too. Sean Smiley, Chris Ngoon, Gabriel Johnson, Steve Muench, Tim and Susan Madden, and Ankit Aggarwal were all very helpful as well in numerous capacities. Lastly, a huge shout out to my wife, Nolwenn Madden without whose near constant efforts in organizing for IHBB over the past 4 years, the Olympiad would never have been possible. It has been a privilege to work with all of you in creating this opportunity for students around the world.
David Madden
Ridgewood (NJ) '99, Princeton '03
Founder and Director: International History Bee and Bowl, National History Bee and Bowl (High School Division), International History Olympiad, United States Geography Olympiad, US History Bee, US Academic Bee and Bowl, National Humanities Bee, National Science Bee, International Academic Bowl.
Adviser and former head coach for Team USA at the International Geography Olympiad
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Re: 2015 Intl. History Olympiad July 9-15

Postby Remembered Guy » Tue Jul 28, 2015 1:05 am

I just wanted to say that I, as a longtime highly competitive high school quiz bowl player, had a ton of fun at this event. To me, it did feel more like a series of competitions rather than some sort of summer camp. While the competition was not quite nationals-level fierce, there were a lot of excellent players (not just Bruce), and I can say for sure that all the varsity quiz bowl winners in the various events would have still been super competitive had everyone eligible come (which while not only impossible, probably would have made this harder to run and less fun as the organizers stumbled through).

Mostly, though, I was amazed at the general quality of questions written for this set. To play 1000+ questions at my last high school event and feel mad about hosing or other bad question-writing practices with 15 or less questions was great. To think that most of those questions came together in three weeks is even more amazing.

Public safety diving wrote: The Rock and Roll Bee was also particularly egregious, as in the finals, only 13 out of 30 tossups were answered in the JV division. It wasn't a competition of knowledge as much as it was "Do you listen to the music that your parents grew up to?" There were many questions that were way too hard for the field, but it can probably be excused somewhat by the last-minute writing crunch.


On the other hand, at least 25 of 30 questions in the final were answered at the varsity level, with many of us feeling this was among the most fun events of the week. I do agree with you on the whole that there were events that were way hard (Ancient, Caucacus (this was insane- half the answer lines probably couldn't have been CO hard parts)), but also others (general Bee, Bowl) that were way too easy (probably the equivalent of B-level NHBB regionals), although I think with the large variance in ability of the field this is somewhat inevitable and okay.

On the whole, this event was tons of fun, mostly for the quiz bowl (even though I won less than I was expecting heading into the week), but also for the people and the other events. I will likely not attend next year, as I have something else that will likely take my whole summer (not to mention that Hawaii really is an expensive place to do this). In conclusion. I commend all the IHO people for putting on an excellent first version of this event.
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Re: 2015 Intl. History Olympiad July 9-15

Postby johntait1 » Tue Jul 28, 2015 11:22 am

I'll chime in and say that while I personally didn't go, I did talk to another student that went and he said it was a wonderful experience. He especially emphasized the camaraderie and friendship aspect part, which I think alone makes this event quite worthwhile. I think at Nationals it sort of ends up where the top players interact a lot with each other and the other players sort of feel left out--I certainly felt this a bit freshman year when I wasn't too good--so it's really nice to see an event where all the players get to interact together. From my experience, it seems like the posts on the forums place an over-emphasis on the top players and high-level competition, while neglecting the lower level players and the community aspect of quizbowl. I think that the lower level players are just as important, if not more important than the top players, because all top players start out at a pretty low level, and I think its important to encourage them to get better. since they'll be the new top players when the current top players graduate. Thoughts?
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