March Mammal Madness connects students and teachers

By Rheanna DeCrow

After nine devastating upsets in the NCAA March Madness tournament, and a heartbreaking loss by the Hawkeyes, students began to turn their heads to a tournament with equally high stakes: March Mammal Madness

A fascinating, controversial, and dramatic competition, March Mammal Madness gets students involved not only with the science community, but with other students as well. Started by a science professor from Arizona State University, March Mammal Madness has blown up since its kick off in 2013.

Ever since, March Mammal Madness has been a Bettendorf tradition that fosters school spirit and participation. The teacher that manages the competition at Bettendorf, Katie Hansen, encourages students to participate in the contest.

“I think it's fun. It's not something I started, but I just learned of it and is something to do for fun that the kids could be a part of,” said Hansen.

When the picks are revealed to the 26.7 thousand followers on Twitter and YouTube, the silly, hypothetical battles spark fierce competition within classrooms around the country.

Even within Bettendorf, students take the competition to another level by making bets and knocking other students' picks when they lose. Conversations within classes are competitive, but lighthearted. Senior Charlotte Barnes laughed as she described the competition within her class.

“In the past it has gotten pretty ugly. We discuss all the time which one of our animals lost. Sometimes we get upset if one of our winners loses for something dumb,” said Barnes.

Picking contenders is more of a process than one might think. When considering the past commentary and decisions of MC Marmot, the host of the tournament, one must seriously consider the upsets that may happen. One must consider past upsets as well, when dealing with flaky animals like the musk deer or how historic creatures like the saber-toothed anchovy might fare.

For most students, picking the animals is the most intense part of the competition. However, more than just competition, doing research on the animals cultivates an environment for students to learn more about the unique animals on this Earth. For this reason, it is also Hansen’s favorite part of administering the tournament to the students.

“I like the beginning part where they look up the animals and strategize about why one would beat the other. I think that's the best part of it, doing the research and going through reasoning. Then in the end, it is fun to see who does well,” said Hansen.

Rheanna DeCrow is a senior.

This is her first year as a staff writer for The Growl.


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