Nanyang Polytechnic Quiz/Astronomy Event (1998)

I only really have one sheet of paper from this event, but I felt it was an important event to log here anyway. This was some sort of a Quiz/Astronomy event held at Nanyang Polytechnic on Aug 21-22 1998. I don’t actually know the name of the event, so unless someone in the future who knows of this event chimes in with its actual name, or I find a consent form on the back of some other sheet of paper at some point or something, it’s going to have a descriptive name rather than an actual event name.

Anyway, this event seems to have been a two-parter, firstly a quiz segment in the evening and then a stargazing event overnight to witness a solar eclipse. I wasn’t here for the middle part of the event, due to reasons detailed elsewhere, but I do remember bringing a pair of binoculars along for the astronomy event. I was there with two friends, and our school, Dunman High School, was taking part in the quiz, although our team was composed of people that I was not familiar with, I think.

My surviving handout from the event has been scanned and is located below:

On the front side is the schedule — this was how I managed to pinpoint the date, location and the exact astronomical anomaly that this event was based around. NYP is Nanyang Polytechnic, TASOS is The Astronomical Society of Singapore. Going back into their archives nets me a few interesting pages and pictures, but nothing good thus far — this archive.org event looked promising at first but was apparently held at Nanyang Technological University, which is entirely separate from Nanyang Polytechnic. I should try digging into the Nanyang Polytechnic archives too, but I haven’t done that thus far.

Anyway.

On the back side, I apparently wrote down a bunch of quiz scores! And the names of the participating school teams at the bottom! From top to bottom, they were: Dunman High School, Jurongville Secondary School, Nanyang Girls’ High School (NG), The Chinese High School (TCHS), Whitley Secondary School, Chung Cheng High School (Main) (CCH (m)), Raffles Institution (RI), and Bukit Panjang Government High School (BPGHS).

I’m not sure if I wrote down the school names in the same order as I wrote down the scores — though Chung Cheng High winning actually sounds about right to me — especially since I have a mark by their name and an 8 by Whitley in the 5th position, but the 6/7 by the first two schools makes no sense in that context so I don’t know for sure. The schedule mentions three stages, and it looks like I attempted to write down the running total scores after each round or something.

It also looks like I was trying to figure out a puzzle of some kind to do with the leading letter of each planet’s name and the number of the alphabet that represented each character. Which makes sense that an astronomy-themed quiz would precede an astronomy event.

However… the mention of that buzzer round in the schedule also gave me pause, because I have a weird orphaned memory about watching a buzzer quiz competition take place on stage from audience seats, and I suspect this memory might have come from this event. It might not have though, because the question I remember was not astronomy-themed, and I do not even remember a quiz portion of the event before the astronomy event, and wouldn’t believe it if the schedule wasn’t right in front of me, so why believe me when I say I remember a question from the quiz itself? But I don’t know what other quiz event it could have been — I don’t even remember ever attending any buzzer quizzes in my life, which is why the memory was so odd. But it likely fits here.

The question in particular was a theoretical one. Singapore had/has a number of expressways (highways) stretching across the island, Pan Island Expressway (PIE), Tampines Expressway (TPE), Central Expressway (CTE), and so on. The question that was asked in the quiz was this: If <name of expressway> was built, what would its three letter code be? It was a bit of a trick question, because they used a multi-syllable, multi-word location name, I don’t remember which one, but for sake of example let’s say Pasir Ris Expressway (which doesn’t exist and I believe was the actual example they used). The team that buzzed in answered PRE (or whatever the equivalent was), and I knew they were wrong. I was muttering the correct answer out under my breath as well to try to seem smart to those around me, but no other team buzzed in to get it right.

The correct answer was PSE (or equivalent), and the reason for this is that Singapore doesn’t actually take the first letter of every word to form the abbreviation and only fall back onto syllables if it was a one word name place, though it looks like that if you only look at a subset of the names. In fact, they take the first two syllables of the place name even if the place name has more than one word, and then tack on the E at the end. Bukit Timah Expressway, for example, was codenamed BKE and not BTE. I had wondered about the exact same question several months back while riding pillion on my dad’s motorcycle as he brought me home after school one day, and looking at expressway signs that we were passing, and I had managed to figure it out before we got home after thinking about all the expressways that I knew about, so I was really proud about that, and both those odd memories have stuck with me to this day.

To no one’s surprise, I don’t actually remember much about the event other than that. Not even the solar eclipse itself!

This page was written on Sep 25 2022. Comments about this page can be directed to jesskitten at gmail.

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