Trivia BEE, a brain-teasing evening to raise funds for literacy

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Ever had a bee in your bonnet that you could ace a quiz show? Then buzz on up to Cañada College Oct. 11 for the 30th running of Redwood City Project READ’s Trivia BEE.

This fun and entertaining event gives lively minds a chance to test their knowledge about interesting but useless facts against other people with a head for trivia, while helping to raise funds for a local literacy program. Teams of three compete for the coveted title of Trivia Champion of Redwood City, won last year by a trio whose name could be spelling bee fodder: Meltzer, Biddiscombe & Czechowski. During the BEE, people in the audience are mentally testing their own trivia knowledge against the contestants, but sometimes corporate sponsors pay the fee for a team but may not want to be on stage answering questions themselves – and need quiz kids to fill the seats.

The Trivia BEE was the brainchild of then-Project READ Director David Miller and two Friends of Literacy Board members, Barbara Greenalch and Jane Weidman. Theirs was the original trivia bee, and the Redwood City literacy board has shared the format, rules, questions with similar groups as far away as India and Australia. The event, which begins with hors d’oeuvres and a raffle at 6:30 p.m., takes in an average of $25,000 a year, funds that help would-be readers from the pediatric to the geriatric stages of life, according to Literacy Division Manager Kathy Endaya. Some of the funds are used to identify obstacles to learning and help people remedy them quickly, such as getting eye exams and glasses or hearing aids, as well as learning evaluations.

Project READ and Redwood City Library staff compile potential questions all year, in fact, they’re already working on the 2020 stumpers. Each question must have at least one “solid source” behind it, and all the librarians get together once a year to winnow the questions down to the BEE keepers. The questions can’t be too hard though.  “Actually we have to remind the librarians that these are mere mortals playing,” Endaya says.  The teams go through several rounds of questions before the finalists and the ultimate trivia champ emerge.

Some sample questions courtesy of Project READ’s Brigid Walsh (answers below):

  1. In a standard deck of playing cards, which is the only king without a mustache?
  2. Dickens’ classic novel, “A Tale of Two Cities,” is set in which two cities?
  3. What is the scale used to determine the “hotness” of peppers?
  4. In 2014, Google introduced a low-cost virtual reality viewer made out of what material?
  5. Who was the first woman to win five Grammys in one night?

If you’d like to attend this year’s BEE, visit for information or call 650.780.7077.

Trivia answers:

1.) King of Hearts 2.) Paris and London 3.) Scoville Scale 4.) Cardboard 5.) Lauryn Hill.

This story was originally published in the October print edition of Climate Magazine.