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Jeopardy: For Entertainment and Education

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Just about everyone has had to take a pop quiz at school to test one's knowledge in science or in another subject. But why would anyone want to do it for fun?

“Americans are very competitive. They want to be the strongest, brightest and fastest. Jeopardy lets them compare their skills at home to the three bright players on the show,” says Alex Trebek, the Jeopardy Game Show host, in an interview with News10 ABC Sacramento.

If you want to brush up on your science or any other subject for school or just because you love to learn, watch Jeopardy or design your own version of Jeopardy.

Or do you think you have what it takes to be a contestant? Find out when tryouts will be in your area. At least a thousand participants tryout at each event, Trebek told News10. For instance, on October 25th at the News10 Contestant Fest at Sunrise Mall in Citrus Heights, CA, some people waited in line for several hours to take tests to try to qualify for the Jeopardy finals. Members of the Jeopardy Clue Crew, Sofia Lidskog and Jimmy McGuire, were also there to host mock games and hand out prizes. News10’s anchor Dale Shornack, and sports reporter, Will Sullivan, were also there to greet the crowd.

“You can’t prepare for it. Either you know a lot of stuff or you don’t,” says Trebek to News10 in Sacramento.

And only 25 people made it through the qualifying rounds this time and will be put into a contestant pool to have a chance to get on Jeopardy.

The Sacramento area has had tryouts before but not with the host. So some people just came to the Fest to meet Trebek and get his autograph.

Although Merv Griffin created Jeopardy in 1964, Alex Trebek has hosted Jeopardy since 1984 and according to Nielsen ratings, Jeopardy has been #1 for 1000 weeks. In addition, the show has won 24 Daytime Emmy Awards and Alex Trebek has won three for “Outstanding Games Show Host.” Some of the stars who have appeared on Jeopardy and donated the winnings to their favorite charities include Rosie O’Donnell, David Duchovny, Jane Seymour, Jason Alexander, Alyssa Milano, Larry King, Kirsten Dunst.

The game is also used in schools.

Assistant Professor of Government Thomas M. Nichols, said in an issue of Dartmouth Magazine, JEOPARDY! is "the SAT of television game shows."

Teachers have been creating their own versions of Jeopardy. For instance, some teachers in Hardin County in Kentucky (www.hardin.k12.ky.us/res_techn/countyjeopardygames.htm), have developed games Jeopardy style, in answer-question format, for science and math, as well as for other subjects. For example, for the middle school level, there are games to review atoms, space, weather, and planets. At the bottom of the page are links to instructions and to a blank game template for you to create your own game, whether you're a teacher, parent or member of a study group.

Whether learning for its own sake or for school review, Jeopardy is a fun way to test or increase your knowledge. Watch it on TV or create your own game. You can also play it online at Microsoft Network (zone.msn.com/en/jeopardy/default.htm).

But if you want to show what you already know, learn how to register as a contestant at Sony Pictures Television (jeopardy.com).

Diana Clarke is a teacher and freelance writer. She was the coordinator of the test facilitation program at De Anza College in Silicon Valley. Her work has appeared in newspapers and magazines including the Bay Area Parent Magazine and San Jose Mercury News.

You can view video clips of the Fest at



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