My High School Science Teacher Let Me Watch Game Shows for Homework

At 7:00 every weekday night the game shows came on. Not the same game show. Every night it was different. I watched them all.

Game Show Science

Beverly Kong taught biology at Oceana High School. She was quiet, small, and very smart. I took her class in my sophomore year. I was also small at the time, somewhat smart, but not at all quiet. It made for an interesting teacher-student dynamic.

Oceana High School (Wikipedia)

Late in the school year she gave an assignment. Its goals and parameters were equally amorphous – at least in my mind – and for some reason I didn’t bother asking for clarification. If she wanted to be obscure, I figured I’d let her.

Besides, words were more my thing than science. You can tell because I used words like “amorphous” and “clarification” and “obscure” in that last paragraph.

My project became a write-up on the game shows I watched every night. The point was not the shows themselves. Rather it was the people on the shows. Was there a difference in behavior between those who appeared on The $10,000 Pyramid as opposed to those on Tic-Tac-Dough? How did people respond to victory – or failure – on Concentration, and did it differ from Celebrity Sweepstakes? And how could anyone keep a straight face when Paul Lynde let loose on Hollywood Squares?

Five pages of pure game show gold.

Mrs. Kong appeared bemused. “I didn’t know you were doing this for your project, Tim.”

Of course not, I said in my head. You’d have told me to pick something else. Out loud I said, “I thought a psychological analysis of game show contestants would be interesting, since we’re covering the brain right now.”

“All right,” she said, setting my paper down on her desk. I don’t think Mrs. Kong ever said things like “OK” or “Yeah.” By the time she got done reading it and handed it back to me a few days later, she gave me an A-.

If this had been a game show, I won.

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4 Responses to My High School Science Teacher Let Me Watch Game Shows for Homework

  1. Jeannie Prinsen says:

    I think that would be fascinating, Tim! And it sounds like Mrs. Kong was a good teacher and appreciated her students’ uniqueness. Do you remember any particular conclusions from your extensive research?

    • Tim says:

      All I remember is that the contestants were not fungible between shows. How they expressed their reaction to success or failure varied greatly from show to show.

      • Jeannie Prinsen says:

        These shows are like a whole culture, right? With maybe a few exceptions, it’s hard to imagine a Jeopardy champion jumping up and down and screaming like a WoF champion.

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