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Brain Games: The Amazing Story of Academic Decathalon

Rich Burlingham
Rich Burlingham, Johanna Burlingham

Imagine merging the dedication and team spirit of an NFL team with the well-rounded knowledge of Jeopardy! champions, plus mix in the cultural diversity of the United Nations - that's academic decathlon. Brain Games spotlights this high school based program designed for over and under-achieving students to teach each other as they compete against other high schools in grueling academic competitions. Even though they win medals, trophies and scholarships, it is the love of learning that changes their education, career paths and entire lives. Each year 20,000 academic decathletes compete in grueling 10-event competitions, including language & literature, art, music, social science, economics, mathematics, science, essay, interview, and speech. With more than 40 years of success and 200,000 international alumni, its key features are its inclusiveness and diversity. "This program gives A students the chance to show their strengths and B students the chance to improve, but most important, it has the power to change C students' lives," according to Marvin Cobb, USC All-American, NFL standout and former California Academic Decathlon's executive director. This documentary shows how the principles of academic decathlon can be replicated to improve our entire educational system and ultimately the entire nation.