Students Beat Professors in ‘Battle of the Brains’

“Battle of the Brains,” a long-awaited event in the Campuswide Honors Program community, made an appearance for the 10th consecutive year at UC Irvine on May 5 in the Engineering Lecture Hall.
This event was fashioned after the widely popular video game “Super Smash Brothers Brawl,” in which various Nintendo characters battle it out on screen, and featured a bit of a twist on the original game: instead of Bowser and Pokemon, current CHP students tested their intellect against esteemed UCI professors and alumni.
Various professors from several different departments, and undergraduates varying in major as well as year, competed in categories as varied as pop culture and high-level chemistry.
In three 20-minute rounds, each group fought to hit its buzzer first, with only five seconds to consult with peers.
Prior to the battle, appetizers were served and anyone in attendance was eligible to enter in a drawing for Kaplan test prep classes or tickets to amusements parks.
Although not all CHP students were able to compete, those who were lucky enough to battle it out with professors thoroughly enjoyed the annual event. Danni Menard, a fourth-year political science major and a contestant for the past two years, said that the event was “a great CHP tradition … [and] a lot of fun when you know something your professors do not!”
Although professors are usually taken to be smarter than students, the competition is neck-and-neck most years.
Not only did professors play this Jeopardy-style game, but some also had their own band. Professors in Logic and Philosophy of Science Kyle Stanford and Jeffrey Barrett pumped up the crowd by playing old favorites: “Jailhouse Rock” and “Johnny B. Good,” to name a few. However, this was Stanford’s and Barrett’s last performance at Battle of the Brains because both said that they have “dissertations to write.”
Following the upbeat performances, the battle was opened up with event coordinator Sarah Barber, who introduced the game to the audience, and a skit performance by a seasoned CHP student.
The first round of CHP students versus professors was referred to as the battle between Yoshi and Bowser. This round set off the evening with a slew of difficult questions, ranging from naming various periodic-table elements to naming the female star in the movie “Grease.” There was even a question about the name of the elephant in Dr. Seuss’ books.
An added twist to this decade-long tradition was the inclusion of audience participants. When neither professors nor competing students could formulate an answer – which was rare – it was thrown to the audience, which was also divided into groups.
By the second round, the professors seemed to be slipping into second place, and the students remained ahead by 80 to 100 points through the rest of the game. The CHP students ended up beating the professors by a landslide 100 points.