2014 NASAT Discussion

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2014 NASAT Discussion

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots » Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:34 pm

Since the online mirror is over, NASAT is now cleared for public discussion. I served as head editor of the set in addition to subject editing mythology. The other subject editors were Auroni Gupta for fine arts; Tommy Casalaspi for literature; Matt Weiner for history, social science, religion, philosophy, and geography/miscellany; and Cody Voight for science. The bulk of the raw questions were written by Mike Cheyne, Auroni Gupta, Matt Jackson, and Eric Mukherjee, who each contributed over 100. Jordan Brownstein, Victor Prieto, and Adam Silverman added over 130 questions between them, as well. Many thanks are due for their hard work.

The philosophy behind the set was the same as previous years, though I think we did a better job of keeping answerlines accessible this time. Please discuss away.
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Re: 2014 NASAT Discussion

Post by The Stately Rhododendron » Mon Jun 23, 2014 10:55 pm

I liked the set a lot and had a real blast playing it. There were some really fun answer lines like "Appearances of the Virgin Mary," "President of Rwanda," and "The Glengarry leads." From what I remember, I had problems with a few questions. The question on "California" started with the description of the Santa Monica shootings, an event I thought was fairly well known and not necessarily the best choice for the first clue. I also disliked the bonus on Baraka focussing on his dumb poem about 9/11, especially because he wrote so many great poems and books before that, yet the question seemed to be entirely about that stupid poem. Also I'd make one correction to a CE question: the bonus that went "Chavez/Rouseff/Bachelet" said that Bachelet was defeated for reelection in 2010. This isn't true, Chile has a one term at a time limit and Bachelet didn't run. Rather, a candidate from her Concertacion coalition, Eduardo Frei, ran, and lost.
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Re: 2014 NASAT Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Mon Jun 23, 2014 11:01 pm

Heh, almost all of those questions were written by me!

Yeah, I wasn't sure on the California lead-in; I was unfamiliar with the details of it, but it probably got a lot of play over the years and especially with the recent events. I'll defend the Baraka bonus, not that I think Baraka should be only remembered by that poem, but because it's a valid thing to ask about. I did ask about Dutchman, I think, though, as well in that bonus.

Thanks for the feedback, glad you liked the other tossups (I didn't write the Rwanda one).
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Re: 2014 NASAT Discussion

Post by Matthew Bonnan » Mon Jun 23, 2014 11:28 pm

I may be misremembering and/or was just hearing things from the back of the room, but was Menderes clued in both the Turkey tossup and a Turkey bonus part?
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Re: 2014 NASAT Discussion

Post by nadph » Tue Jun 24, 2014 12:34 am

(disclaimer: not set's intended audience)
This set was pretty cool. I thought the decision to increase the math distribution to 1/1 worked out well, with a lot of diverse answers that one could still reasonably encounter in high school. Some of the tossup answers seemed quite hard (e.g. Fukuyama), and some of the bonuses, especially science, seemed very hard, but there were a lot of fresh and accessible tossups to balance this out. I noticed two trends that I personally liked: 1) continued from ACF Nationals, the usage of "public interest" clues in art and geography; and 2) the presence of what seemed like more lab clues than the average set in the sciences (probably more accessible from a HS perspective, with so many kids nowadays applying for research programs and such).
Matthew Bonnan wrote:I may be misremembering and/or was just hearing things from the back of the room, but was Menderes clued in both the Turkey tossup and a Turkey bonus part?
I remember this happening as well during the online mirror.
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Re: 2014 NASAT Discussion

Post by NLiu » Fri Jun 27, 2014 10:23 am

I feel as if there were several answers that were re-used twice, often in the course of the same packet or even the same half; the Richard Wright that came up twice in the second half of the first packet was the most glaring example in my mind. The clues for both were different, so I'm not sure if it was intentional, but in my experience repeated answers aren't like supposed to be a thing.
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Re: 2014 NASAT Discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Fri Jun 27, 2014 10:38 am

This tournament was fun to play. I especially enjoyed the geo/CE/miscellaneous questions, which were a great mix of non-almanac geography, important concepts from the politics of the Modern World (heh), and other cool academic areas (the Hmong question did great job of integrating these things - big props to whoever wrote that). I found the other questions in my primary subject areas pretty good in general as well. There were a number of cool "creative" answers, my favorites probably being Eric's religion tossup on the Night Journey and the history tossup on irrigation.

This set did its job of sticking to what it promised - a tournament of ACF Regionals difficulty, meaning harder than what "regular difficulty" has typically meant in the past. It was consistent with regards to this goal in that there weren't a whole lot of things below regular-difficulty par (other than the Don river bonus, which belongs in ACF Fall) and had a lot of pretty tough bonuses that took serious, deep knowledge to 30, like this past year's Regionals did. A lot of bonuses were quite tough, though, especially in terms of what their conception of an "easy part" was. If you mean an easy part to be something that most of the all-star teams would pull with little effort, then I can respect that, but I personally don't think that using the Atlantic Charter, Black Jack Pershing, or the Wade-Davis bill as easy parts is a good idea in general.
Last edited by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea on Fri Jun 27, 2014 10:56 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: 2014 NASAT Discussion

Post by Cody » Fri Jun 27, 2014 10:40 am

NLiu wrote:I feel as if there were several answers that were re-used twice, often in the course of the same packet or even the same half; the Richard Wright that came up twice in the second half of the first packet was the most glaring example in my mind. The clues for both were different, so I'm not sure if it was intentional, but in my experience repeated answers aren't like supposed to be a thing.
Repeated answers without repeated clues are not a problem and occur frequently in many tournaments of all levels. It is unfortunate that the packetizing did not separate the questions.
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Re: 2014 NASAT Discussion

Post by Mike Bentley » Fri Jun 27, 2014 2:53 pm

This was a fun tournament that seemed to play to my strength of having written a million nationals-level high school questions in the past few years.
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Re: 2014 NASAT Discussion

Post by vinteuil » Sat Jun 28, 2014 5:49 pm

Did the tossup on the Cascadia subduction zone actually get used as a tiebreaker in any games? Did it serve that purpose well?
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Re: 2014 NASAT Discussion

Post by vcuEvan » Sat Jun 28, 2014 6:09 pm

vinteuil wrote:Did the tossup on the Cascadia subduction zone actually get used as a tiebreaker in any games? Did it serve that purpose well?
Yes. No.
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Re: 2014 NASAT Discussion

Post by vinteuil » Sat Jun 28, 2014 8:10 pm

vcuEvan wrote:
vinteuil wrote:Did the tossup on the Cascadia subduction zone actually get used as a tiebreaker in any games? Did it serve that purpose well?
Yes. No.
That's by far the most egregious tossup answer I remember--I think the set did a great job of making tossups accessible (and interesting and fun) on the whole.

I will say that these bonuses often have very hard middle parts, which I suppose follows this year's regionals pretty closely. What was the exact intent of pinning the difficulty to regionals 2014 instead of, e.g. 2010?
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Re: 2014 NASAT Discussion

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots » Sat Jun 28, 2014 8:28 pm

vinteuil wrote:
vcuEvan wrote:
vinteuil wrote:Did the tossup on the Cascadia subduction zone actually get used as a tiebreaker in any games? Did it serve that purpose well?
Yes. No.
That's by far the most egregious tossup answer I remember--I think the set did a great job of making tossups accessible (and interesting and fun) on the whole.

I will say that these bonuses often have very hard middle parts, which I suppose follows this year's regionals pretty closely. What was the exact intent of pinning the difficulty to regionals 2014 instead of, e.g. 2010?
Can you give examples of typical middle parts you considered "very hard"? I don't immediately see the difference between the middle parts of this tournament, Regionals 2010, and Regionals 2014.
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Re: 2014 NASAT Discussion

Post by vinteuil » Sat Jun 28, 2014 10:08 pm

Vernon Lee Bad Marriage, Jr. wrote:
vinteuil wrote:
vcuEvan wrote:
vinteuil wrote:Did the tossup on the Cascadia subduction zone actually get used as a tiebreaker in any games? Did it serve that purpose well?
Yes. No.
That's by far the most egregious tossup answer I remember--I think the set did a great job of making tossups accessible (and interesting and fun) on the whole.

I will say that these bonuses often have very hard middle parts, which I suppose follows this year's regionals pretty closely. What was the exact intent of pinning the difficulty to regionals 2014 instead of, e.g. 2010?
Can you give examples of typical middle parts you considered "very hard"? I don't immediately see the difference between the middle parts of this tournament, Regionals 2010, and Regionals 2014.
Sorry for the poor wording; I was conflating two phenomena. It seems to me that many of the middle parts here were on the hard edge (or just above) of the range. Also, there were (as usual, I guess) a few outliers with no middle part at all (e.g.—I think—circuits/Thévenin/open-circuit voltage, and a few other of the science bonuses).

To take some examples of what seemed to me to be "pushy" middle parts from Packet 1 (and, again, I would be totally willing to chalk this up to my ignorance): Gifford Lectures (or was Tillich the middle part? This seems like a bonus with somewhat close middle and hard parts, but I could be totally ignorant), Rome (only Middlemarch clues), arquebuses, disciple whom Jesus loved, Carhenge, FISH.

So, that's 6/21=almost ⅓. I'll emphasize that I didn't think that this was an enormous problem, and that I like this set a lot.
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Re: 2014 NASAT Discussion

Post by Mewto55555 » Mon Jun 30, 2014 11:04 am

This set is now available online at http://www.hsapq.com/samples
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Re: 2014 NASAT Discussion

Post by yeah viv talk nah » Mon Jun 30, 2014 12:38 pm

The third page of packet no. 8 is blank. Tossups 5 through 8 are missing.

EDIT: That's weird, now it works fine ...
Last edited by yeah viv talk nah on Mon Jun 30, 2014 12:52 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: 2014 NASAT Discussion

Post by Eddie » Mon Jun 30, 2014 12:47 pm

crash bandicoot wrote:The third page of packet no. 8 is blank. Tossups 5 through 8 are missing.
It seems to work fine for me.
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Re: 2014 NASAT Discussion

Post by Maury Island incident » Fri Jul 04, 2014 12:59 pm

vcuEvan wrote:
vinteuil wrote:Did the tossup on the Cascadia subduction zone actually get used as a tiebreaker in any games? Did it serve that purpose well?
Yes. No.
It was used as a tiebreaker in our round against Indiana, who negged on it. I believe they said something along the lines of "Juan de Fuca Plate". That was definitely the hardest tossup I remember from otherwise one of the most enjoyable sets I've ever played (in my one year of quizbowl).
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Re: 2014 NASAT Discussion

Post by Santa Claus » Thu Jul 10, 2014 12:51 am

I was doing some research (i.e. Google) on Robbers Cave, since it seemed like an interesting topic, and after reading some of the information on the topic, I think the NASAT tossup on it ended up way too hard for highschoolers.
NASAT wrote:An experiement within this larger study had to be scrapped due to a thin film of iron oxide preventing a machine from accurately judging scores. A participant in this study was nicknamed "Nudie", and several refused to participate in one of the experiments due to the brand of pencil used. Another experiment in this study asked participants to estimate the length of a tug-of-war contest. Two participants in this study, Davis and Boyd, failed to complete all three stages because they were sent home prior to Stage 2. This study concerned the development and reduction of intergroup conflict between the "Rattlers" and the "Eagles", two groups of twelve-year-old boys. For ten points, name this study conducted in the namesake State Park in Oklahoma by Muzafer Sherif.
If you look at the tossup, none of the clues are even remotely recognizable until fourth sentence, based on anything you'd find on Wikipedia or the first page of Google results. It seems like this tossup was written based on a book on Robbers Cave, based on the interesting, though incredibly obscure, clues. However, I don't think it's fair to expect high schoolers to have read a book on a single lesser known sociological experiment just to get tossups at NASAT.
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Re: 2014 NASAT Discussion

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Thu Jul 10, 2014 1:48 am

Santa Claus wrote:I was doing some research (i.e. Google) on Robbers Cave, since it seemed like an interesting topic, and after reading some of the information on the topic, I think the NASAT tossup on it ended up way too hard for highschoolers.
NASAT wrote:An experiement within this larger study had to be scrapped due to a thin film of iron oxide preventing a machine from accurately judging scores. A participant in this study was nicknamed "Nudie", and several refused to participate in one of the experiments due to the brand of pencil used. Another experiment in this study asked participants to estimate the length of a tug-of-war contest. Two participants in this study, Davis and Boyd, failed to complete all three stages because they were sent home prior to Stage 2. This study concerned the development and reduction of intergroup conflict between the "Rattlers" and the "Eagles", two groups of twelve-year-old boys. For ten points, name this study conducted in the namesake State Park in Oklahoma by Muzafer Sherif.
If you look at the tossup, none of the clues are even remotely recognizable until fourth sentence, based on anything you'd find on Wikipedia or the first page of Google results. It seems like this tossup was written based on a book on Robbers Cave, based on the interesting, though incredibly obscure, clues. However, I don't think it's fair to expect high schoolers to have read a book on a single lesser known sociological experiment just to get tossups at NASAT.
Not to be glib (well, maybe a little) but it turns out you need to learn more about things to get tossups on them earlier!

Now, as it happens I agree with you that this tossup is hard to buzz on early--like a lot of tossups on psychological experiments, you can't talk about the obvious aims or conclusions of the study super early, and giving specific, clear details of the events involved often tends to make the answer fairly obvious, so early clues tend to rely on obtuse descriptions of things or minor details that wouldn't necessarily be covered anywhere but a very detailed analysis/description of the study. HOWEVAH, my point in making this post is that "these clues weren't on Wikipedia or the first page of Google results" is an astoundingly poor justification for your otherwise-correct argument. NASAT's never been shy about being an ACF Regionals-level tournament, and while it sometimes gets carried away with early-clue difficulty, it's definitely a tournament that you're going to have to do some serious learning for if you expect a lot of early buzzes.
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Re: 2014 NASAT Discussion

Post by Corry » Thu Jul 10, 2014 2:05 am

Ukonvasara wrote:HOWEVAH, my point in making this post is that "these clues weren't on Wikipedia or the first page of Google results" is an astoundingly poor justification for your otherwise-correct argument. NASAT's never been shy about being an ACF Regionals-level tournament, and while it sometimes gets carried away with early-clue difficulty, it's definitely a tournament that you're going to have to do some serious learning for if you expect a lot of early buzzes.
Well to be fair, where else can a high schooler be reasonably expected to learn this kind of stuff, if not Wikipedia or the first page of Google results? I could imagine getting assigned to read a book about the Robber's Cave experiment in my college psych classes, for sure. But expecting any 14 to 18 year old to recognize a fact that's not accessible on "mainstream" internet sources (i.e. pretty much just the first page of Google, unfortunately) seems like a stretch to me.
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Re: 2014 NASAT Discussion

Post by vinteuil » Thu Jul 10, 2014 2:19 am

Corry wrote:
Ukonvasara wrote:HOWEVAH, my point in making this post is that "these clues weren't on Wikipedia or the first page of Google results" is an astoundingly poor justification for your otherwise-correct argument. NASAT's never been shy about being an ACF Regionals-level tournament, and while it sometimes gets carried away with early-clue difficulty, it's definitely a tournament that you're going to have to do some serious learning for if you expect a lot of early buzzes.
Well to be fair, where else can a high schooler be reasonably expected to learn this kind of stuff, if not Wikipedia or the first page of Google results? I could imagine getting assigned to read a book about the Robber's Cave experiment in my college psych classes, for sure. But expecting any 14 to 18 year old to recognize a fact that's not accessible on "mainstream" internet sources (i.e. pretty much just the first page of Google, unfortunately) seems like a stretch to me.
Corry, I completely agree that many things about NASAT this year were far too difficult (for ACF Regionals level), and maybe even this question, but I don't think that this in particular is reasonable. We have plenty of examples of people on this board who have done well at e.g. science olympiads that reach well into their respective college curricula, so saying that "high schoolers would never have done the kind of reading that would happen in a college psych course" doesn't seem justifiable to me. I'm sure that at least one person who played NASAT had even taken one or more college psych courses, etc.
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Re: 2014 NASAT Discussion

Post by Corry » Thu Jul 10, 2014 3:16 am

vinteuil wrote: Corry, I completely agree that many things about NASAT this year were far too difficult (for ACF Regionals level), and maybe even this question, but I don't think that this in particular is reasonable. We have plenty of examples of people on this board who have done well at e.g. science olympiads that reach well into their respective college curricula, so saying that "high schoolers would never have done the kind of reading that would happen in a college psych course" doesn't seem justifiable to me. I'm sure that at least one person who played NASAT had even taken one or more college psych courses, etc.
That's reasonable. As per your suggestion, let me rephrase myself: while there are people out there with the in-depth knowledge necessary to buzz on these sorts of clues, a vast majority of high schoolers cannot. To me, mentioning that a clue "isn't accessible on the first page of Google" is just shorthand (or longhand, I suppose) for saying that a clue is hard. For the first line or so of a tossup, that's fine for testing in-depth knowledge and whatnot. If those sorts of clues are used for half the tossup, however, it's probably overkill.
Last edited by Corry on Thu Jul 10, 2014 3:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 2014 NASAT Discussion

Post by Corry » Thu Jul 10, 2014 3:20 am

As a somewhat unrelated side comment, do any tournaments track question conversion stats besides NAQT? That's always been one of my favorite things about writing for NAQT; otherwise, it seems to me that there's really no reliable way of determining the difficulty of any particular question.
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Re: 2014 NASAT Discussion

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Thu Jul 10, 2014 4:26 am

Corry wrote:
vinteuil wrote: Corry, I completely agree that many things about NASAT this year were far too difficult (for ACF Regionals level), and maybe even this question, but I don't think that this in particular is reasonable. We have plenty of examples of people on this board who have done well at e.g. science olympiads that reach well into their respective college curricula, so saying that "high schoolers would never have done the kind of reading that would happen in a college psych course" doesn't seem justifiable to me. I'm sure that at least one person who played NASAT had even taken one or more college psych courses, etc.
That's reasonable. As per your suggestion, let me rephrase myself: while there are people out there with the in-depth knowledge necessary to buzz on these sorts of clues, a vast majority of high schoolers cannot. To me, mentioning that a clue "isn't accessible on the first page of Google" is just shorthand (or longhand, I suppose) for saying that a clue is hard. For the first line or so of a tossup, that's fine for testing in-depth knowledge and whatnot. If those sorts of clues are used for half the tossup, however, it's probably overkill.
I think Jacob's post reinforces my original point pretty well. My response to your new tack is: a vast majority of high schoolers are not being expected to buzz on early clues of NASAT tossups. The people who are are the best high school quizbowl players in the country, who know going in that they'll be playing the hardest written-for-high-school questions out there, and who are oftentimes the most likely to have done significant extracurricular work like taking college courses (or even just researching things that have appeared in quizbowl out of personal interest). Again, I agree with you that, in a quizbowl sense, this specific tossup was fairly top-heavy and hard to buzz early on, but I don't think "most people wouldn't learn the early-clue facts in high school classes" and "I couldn't find the early-clue facts by doing literally the most cursory research possible" are the grounds you want to base your critique on.
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Re: 2014 NASAT Discussion

Post by theMoMA » Thu Jul 10, 2014 10:48 am

I think what Rob's saying is true, but as a practical matter, I do see an important distinction between two kinds of difficulty modulation when writing for really good high school players. In broad strokes, it seems like you can write difficult questions for high schoolers in two ways (which can obviously intertwine): by choosing answers or clues that drill down into the finer details of the typical fare of high school tournaments, or by choosing answers or clues that test on the wide world of important things that a player is unlikely to encounter in high school quizbowl.

Because the best high school players practice on and play college sets, I think we can expect them to answer questions from the second category. But I would caution writers from going too far in that direction, because the reason that we ask about the things we ask about in high school quizbowl is because they're the things that we expect high schoolers to have meaningful knowledge of.
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Re: 2014 NASAT Discussion

Post by magin » Fri Jul 11, 2014 2:07 pm

theMoMA wrote:I think what Rob's saying is true, but as a practical matter, I do see an important distinction between two kinds of difficulty modulation when writing for really good high school players. In broad strokes, it seems like you can write difficult questions for high schoolers in two ways (which can obviously intertwine): by choosing answers or clues that drill down into the finer details of the typical fare of high school tournaments, or by choosing answers or clues that test on the wide world of important things that a player is unlikely to encounter in high school quizbowl.

Because the best high school players practice on and play college sets, I think we can expect them to answer questions from the second category. But I would caution writers from going too far in that direction, because the reason that we ask about the things we ask about in high school quizbowl is because they're the things that we expect high schoolers to have meaningful knowledge of.
I think Andrew is right on the money here. I sympathize with NASAT writers who need to write over 20 social science tossups, but writing a tossup on Robbers Cave for NASAT seems like a very poor idea for several reasons. One, I'd be very surprised if high schoolers knew anything about the experiment besides its basic facts, making it better suited to a bonus part at this level. Two, even as a Muzafer Sherif partisan, I don't think Robbers Cave makes for a solid tossup, since the clues about details not related to conflict/cooperation are not really important (we care about this experiment for its findings, not how it was set up), and the clues about conflict/cooperation make the answer fairly guessable to people who know what the experiment was.

In general, I think a good principle when writing tossups is to consider "would the intended audience for this tossup realistically know these clues?" We all have imperfect knowledge, but I honestly would be shocked to see high schoolers buzz on the Robbers Cave tossup before the second-to-last line, if at all, which seems like a very poor use of tossup space. This is not to say that many questions in NASAT had this problem, but even experienced writers/editors can misjudge how well a question will play; I'd encourage everyone to consider "would the intended audience for this tossup realistically know these clues?" for every tossup, with no exceptions.
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Re: 2014 NASAT Discussion

Post by Matt Weiner » Fri Jul 11, 2014 2:14 pm

I think there's an erroneous premise here about what NASAT is -- the "intended audience" is "people playing at the level of an ACF Regionals type set." It's a tournament played by high schoolers, but not a "high school tournament" in the way most high school sets are. It's not intended to be a clone of the NSC or HSNCT, where different principles should apply. I think that writing it in the way it's been written has been a good idea, based on the universal plaudits from the people who actually played the set and the recent growth in field size.
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Re: 2014 NASAT Discussion

Post by magin » Fri Jul 11, 2014 2:43 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:I think there's an erroneous premise here about what NASAT is -- the "intended audience" is "people playing at the level of an ACF Regionals type set." It's a tournament played by high schoolers, but not a "high school tournament" in the way most high school sets are. It's not intended to be a clone of the NSC or HSNCT, where different principles should apply. I think that writing it in the way it's been written has been a good idea, based on the universal plaudits from the people who actually played the set and the recent growth in field size.
I agree that NASAT's intended audience is people who can handle harder material than typical high school stuff, but I feel like the Robbers Cave question just doesn't work even in that context. I should be clearer; every clue in a tossup should be buzzable. I think the Robbers Cave tossup falls short on that front. I don't think it would be a good ACF Regionals tossup either, but at least college students might have taken a social psychology class and have encountered it there. None of the AP Psych sources I just looked up devoted any more than one line to the Robbers Cave study; it seems like a very poor fit for a tossup for a high school tournament (even a high-level one). Wouldn't it make much more sense as a bonus part?
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Re: 2014 NASAT Discussion

Post by vinteuil » Fri Jul 11, 2014 3:17 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:I think there's an erroneous premise here about what NASAT is -- the "intended audience" is "people playing at the level of an ACF Regionals type set." It's a tournament played by high schoolers, but not a "high school tournament" in the way most high school sets are. It's not intended to be a clone of the NSC or HSNCT, where different principles should apply. I think that writing it in the way it's been written has been a good idea, based on the universal plaudits from the people who actually played the set and the recent growth in field size.
I'd agree with Matt that the conception of this tournament is fine, but I'm concerned at the idea that NASAT might be a similar set next year--again, I think that too many things were too hard in this set for it to be considered some sort of exemplar.
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Re: 2014 NASAT Discussion

Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh » Fri Jul 11, 2014 4:55 pm

I think we're running into another instance of "social science doesn't mix terribly well with high school."

At the novice and regular difficulty levels, the issue you run into is one of general accessibility -- the courses themselves, whether that's AP Psych, an Econ class, or anything to do with anthropology or linguistics -- aren't available to a vast majority of students. Whether that's because a student can't fit it in their schedule, or more likely a school doesn't allow underclassmen to take it, or more likely still a school doesn't offer it at all, there are large barriers preventing high schoolers from engaging with the social sciences, which makes roughly 99% of the curriculum off-limits for a tossup.

ACF Regionals is a set intended for college students, for whom you can rightfully assume that the aforementioned barriers have been torn down. High schoolers interested in playing ACF Regionals are, by their nature, intellectually curious enough to have started seeking out the social sciences on their own, and that's probably in the form of studying quizbowl social science from old packets and doing research based on what they see has come up, rather than taking a college-level course. I'm conjecturing here, but I'm pretty confident in it.

My guess, though, is that those self-selected students that want ACF Regionals-level questions, sign up for NASAT to get them, and do that independent work are still not at the level of an ACF Regionals-caliber college player in social science because they haven't had the same quantity or quality of exposure that you can get by taking a university-level course in the topic. They don't know how to study the social sciences because they haven't learned that from an expert -- compare this to literature, where students have had a couple years of high school experience in how to study fiction. Without that in-class experience, it's much harder for students to know what's important about what they're studying, which prevents them from being as good in SS as they are in lit, which makes tossups like Robbers' Cave exceptionally hard.

I feel like there's not much of a distinction to be made between the college and high school games anymore, apart from the step up in difficulty and the expansion of the canon within the traditional categories. I'd say that the accessibility of philosophy and social science might be the only remaining meaningful difference between the two. So I suppose the question is -- is NASAT "college quizbowl, as seen at ACF Regionals" or is it "high school quizbowl with answer lines from ACF Regionals?" I'm pretty sure Matt's last post in this thread confirms that it's the former, and I'm still not entirely sure if that's optimal. The good news is, if anyone's able to meet and enjoy that challenge, it's NASAT players.
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Re: 2014 NASAT Discussion

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots » Fri Jul 11, 2014 4:59 pm

I didn't love the early clues for the Robber's Cave question. I don't think players at any level can practically buzz on them, and the answer itself is pretty hard to begin with, such that that specific question is not one I want to repeat.

However, I don't buy many of the arguments people are making against that topic as an area of inquiry. Andrew suggests rightly that we prioritize topics that come up as clues at the high school level over those that come up as answers at the college level. Because we agree with him, if you look through the set, most of it is made up of answers like Sethe Suggs, Milton's blindness, and John Stuart Mill. We just also included tossups on Neoplatonism, The Playboy of the Western World, and the Gauls' Sack of Rome because we think high schoolers can know some of those, too. Those answers don't tend to come up at the high school level because there's not always an easy way to fit them in, but they're important topics that very good high school players can encounter in the same way they encounter every other askable topic in quizbowl that they don't encounter in class. AP syllabi do not restrict what we can ask about in a difficult tournament.

As a side note, I think the complaints about the difficulty of middle parts are unsupported. Jacob selected bonus parts that seem unreasonable to him and reasonable to me, and since neither of us is a perfect judge of difficulty, we have to go to the stats. If middle parts were overall too hard for the field, we would expect to see a median bonus conversion below 15 ppb; in fact, the median bonus conversion is above 17. All but three of the teams that played this set 20'd more bonuses than they 10'd or 0'd. Although the parity of the teams playing this set accounts for part of this, it also justifies the choice not to make middle parts easier than in this year's Regionals: when those parts sort the entire field, they need to be challenging.

NASAT's oddball difficulty is the major reason it exists alongside NSC and HSNCT. We sometimes mess up individual questions, but I'm happy with how the tournament has realized that vision this year and in the past.
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Re: 2014 NASAT Discussion

Post by Matt Weiner » Fri Jul 11, 2014 5:28 pm

In my opinion, quizbowl never has been and cannot ever be about the classes people take, at any difficulty level. It's about certain askable liberal arts topics, and a good writer has an internal gauge of what's appropriate for a given difficulty level. Appealing to what is or isn't on a syllabus can only provide a minimum bound (anything in an AP class is probably askable at the regular high school level) but says nothing about the appropriate maximum for any tournament.

HSAPQ certainly agrees that "social science doesn't mix terribly well with high school" which is why it does not try to force 1/1 social science per packet into regular-level sets (unlike some "housewrites" which cling to this practice). NASAT is, again, intended to be the hardest high school tournament of the year, on par with ACF Regionals, an average college tournament, and played by all-star teams comprised of the best 4 players from a state. It does things differently than an ordinary high school tournament because it's not an ordinary high school tournament, nor is it even an ordinary high school national.
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Re: 2014 NASAT Discussion

Post by vinteuil » Sat Jul 12, 2014 3:41 am

Vernon Lee Bad Marriage, Jr. wrote: As a side note, I think the complaints about the difficulty of middle parts are unsupported. Jacob selected bonus parts that seem unreasonable to him and reasonable to me, and since neither of us is a perfect judge of difficulty, we have to go to the stats. If middle parts were overall too hard for the field, we would expect to see a median bonus conversion below 15 ppb; in fact, the median bonus conversion is above 17. All but three of the teams that played this set 20'd more bonuses than they 10'd or 0'd. Although the parity of the teams playing this set accounts for part of this, it also justifies the choice not to make middle parts easier than in this year's Regionals: when those parts sort the entire field, they need to be challenging.
This is a very fair argument. I'm beginning to suspect that my perception of "wow, this tournament is HARD" came more from the bonuses that went e.g. Zanj/Kharijite/caliph than from the cumulative effect of a lot of middle parts that seemed (and apparently weren't, at least not all of them!) on the edge of too hard.
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Re: 2014 NASAT Discussion

Post by Ringil » Sat Jul 12, 2014 9:34 pm

For a tournament that calls itself the "hardest high school tournament of the year" it sure did use easy clues pretty often and pretty early. I felt this was particularly endemic in the science questions. I'll give some examples:

Packet 7:
Rudolf Peierls proved that the two-dimensional Ising model was guaranteed to exhibit one of these events
The first two things you learn about the Ising model is that it's about ferromagnetism and it has a phase transition. Guess which one gives you the right answer?

Packet 9:
A set of numbers used to calculate this quantity in several equations has numbers measured
at integer square roots times the radius of the coordination sphere. That set of numbers depends
only on crystal geometry, is found by summing Coulombic interactions, and are the Madelung
constants
Maybe its just me but Madelung constants is pretty much giveaway level clue at regular difficulty.


Packet 10:
A popular method of assembling block copolymers involves them forming the
multicompartment form of these substances. Emulsion
Emulsions you say?

Packet 4;
A closed-cycle, regenerative form of this device that has an ideal theoretical efficiency uses a
compressor piston and a displacer, as well as an inert gas, and is based on the Stirling cycle.
This tells you its a thermodynamical cycle from the first line, thus narrowing the choices to an engine or a refrigerator....

I felt this was a big problem with many of the science questions. I'm also told by noted chemistry person Billy Busse that the chemistry of the set was in general awful.
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Re: 2014 NASAT Discussion

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Sat Jul 12, 2014 10:15 pm

Ringil wrote:I'm also told by noted chemistry person Billy Busse that the chemistry of the set was in general awful.
To be fair, every chemist says this about every set of chemistry questions not written by themselves.
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Re: 2014 NASAT Discussion

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Sat Jul 12, 2014 10:36 pm

Ukonvasara wrote:
Ringil wrote:I'm also told by noted chemistry person Billy Busse that the chemistry of the set was in general awful.
To be fair, every chemist says this about every set of chemistry questions not written by themselves.
Me, about DRAGOON wrote: -This reduction potential tossup is the first of several in the chemistry distribution (including catalysts, fluorescence, etc) that took a very simple answerline and elegantly wrote a deep, rewarding tossup on it. This set did that with the science better than any other in recent memory and should be commended for it.
Me, about ACF Nationals wrote: I thought the science at this tournament was really good overall, both in terms of answer choices and cluing. In particular, I really liked the tossups on LTP and isobaric processes, because they both rewarded knowledge of their categories pretty well (though LTP was pretty difficult), and the question on molecular dynamics was interesting in a canon-busting sort of way.
Also, I wrote that micelles tossup, and I'm not sure how you make that leap from emulsion to micelles.
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Re: 2014 NASAT Discussion

Post by Ringil » Sun Jul 13, 2014 2:40 am

The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:
Ukonvasara wrote:
Ringil wrote:I'm also told by noted chemistry person Billy Busse that the chemistry of the set was in general awful.
To be fair, every chemist says this about every set of chemistry questions not written by themselves.
Me, about DRAGOON wrote: -This reduction potential tossup is the first of several in the chemistry distribution (including catalysts, fluorescence, etc) that took a very simple answerline and elegantly wrote a deep, rewarding tossup on it. This set did that with the science better than any other in recent memory and should be commended for it.
Me, about ACF Nationals wrote: I thought the science at this tournament was really good overall, both in terms of answer choices and cluing. In particular, I really liked the tossups on LTP and isobaric processes, because they both rewarded knowledge of their categories pretty well (though LTP was pretty difficult), and the question on molecular dynamics was interesting in a canon-busting sort of way.
Also, I wrote that micelles tossup, and I'm not sure how you make that leap from emulsion to micelles.
Perhaps this high quality image made by Andrew Wang will show you the connection. The caption is amusing as well: http://tinyurl.com/pm9swxm
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Re: 2014 NASAT Discussion

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Sun Jul 13, 2014 6:29 am

Ringil wrote:
The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:Also, I wrote that micelles tossup, and I'm not sure how you make that leap from emulsion to micelles.
Perhaps this high quality image made by Andrew Wang will show you the connection. The caption is amusing as well: http://tinyurl.com/pm9swxm
Confidential to Andrew Wang: maybe close your "zettai ryouiki" tab before screenshotting your browser next time!

Anyway, I was (mostly) kidding about the chemistry thing. It seems like it'd be more helpful feedback if Billy came and posted some stuff about the questions, rather than having his opinions conveyed secondhand, though.
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