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Less Brown

As I’ve occasionally mentioned before, while in high school I played on the academic challenge team, called Scholars’ Bowl. It was pretty fun and generally one of the more positive memories from that time.

The tournaments were hosted by various schools, and the hosting school would often ask teachers to contribute questions for the tournament. Some teachers had a good understanding of what made a good Scholars’ Bowl question. Others…did not.

At one particular tournament in which our team was competing, we were engaged in a tough battle. The next question to come up was a science question. I don’t remember it, as it was long and complicated (two hallmarks of a bad question), but it basically went like this:

“If [some chemical], which is brown, is combined at a 2:1 ratio with [some other chemical], which is clear, and the two substances are in solution but no chemical changes take place, describe what will happen to the color of the resulting mixture.”

Everyone on both teams took a couple of seconds to process what we had just heard. We looked at each-other, dumbfounded. Finally, I rang in.

“It would be…less brown?”


I think we might have had to take a short break so we could stop laughing.


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