One of the most fun parts of an Entomological Society of America Conference is the Linnaean Games, a competition between entomology departments of different universities. The Smithsonian Magazine just had a great story about this:
Before a crowd of more than a thousand, the larval scholars – mostly PhD candidates – struggle with categories like “Name That Pest” and “Know Your Bug Families.” They tackle current events – this year, expect questions on the emerald ash borer, a beetle poised to wipe out the nation’s ash trees – and high culture. Who wrote the poem “My Butterfly?” (Robert Frost.) Who composed “Flight of the Bumblebee?” (Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.)
You can look at the official Linnaean Games page of the ESA to see the rules–it’s run just like College Bowl, with buzzers and time limits. And, extremely esoteric questions:
“Name the portion of the insect brain that receives both sensory and motor fibers from the antennae.”
When the teams get stumped by a question, the moderator turns it over to the audience–which is full of entomology faculty, who then erupt into an argument over the proper answer.
Very good fun.