We love playing trivia in my math classes.

I hope you’ll steal my trivia format because it’s proven a great balance between fun and problem solving that lasts the whole period. The format is loosely modeled on Team Trivia, which you may have played at a local eatery. While I’ve designed time pressure, it’s not about answering the question first (which removes incentive for everyone else).

The trickiest part to Waterfall Trivia was developing a sense of problem-solving urgency. My solution was an auto-scrolling series of questions that come at the students in rounds of three to five questions. I explain below how to generate an auto-scrolling set of Waterfall Trivia questions.

Where’s the Teaching?

I use time between rounds to review especially tricky problems (often those that more than half the students get wrong). In addition, I keep the answer slips to identify groups of students who need remediation (and on what kinds of problems they need the work).

What Do the Winners Win?

In my games, the winning team usually wins candy, pencils, or a couple bonus points on the upcoming test. A broad spectrum of students will compete hardest for the bonus points.

Musical Stylings

I usually play music from Pandora.com during the rounds. If you can stand it, the Classic Hip Hop station is quite entertaining.

Setting Up Waterfall Trivia

  1. Set up your questions in a Powerpoint file (a sample is here).
  2. Export the Powerpoint file to a PDF file.
  3. Open the PDF in Adobe Reader.
  4. From the View menu, choose Reading Mode to eliminate clutter.
  5. From the View menu, choose Automatically Scroll.
  6. Adjust scrolling speed with up and down arrow keys.

Voila! A trivia game that paces itself. Sit back, collect answer slips, tally scores, and explain solutions.

[Update: Fall 2012] Collected Waterfall Trivia Sets