Thursday, March 29, 2012

Enthusiasm for consumer issues making impact on pro advocate

By Teresa GreenTeresa Green is the Linda Golodner Food Safety and Nutrition Fellow at the National Consumers League. She works on a variety of issues related to food safety, nutrition, and alcohol labeling. Teresa represents NCL on the Make Our Food Safe Coalition, which works to improve food safety systems in the U.S., and as part of the National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity, which works to promote healthy eating and physical activity.

Last Thursday, I had my first experience with LifeSmarts, serving as both a judge and then question master at the DC competition. The thing I most took away from the competition was the energy of the kids competing. Even when they were behind or struggling with difficult questions, these kids were excited to be there and excited to be competing for the chance to go to Nationals in Philadelphia.

As someone who does consumer advocacy for a living, I am sometimes guilty of taking the excitement for consumer issues I encounter for granted. The energy of these kids, their dedication to the competition and the knowledge it tests, reminded me that not everyone has the opportunity to be so well informed. As we move closer and closer to Nationals, we’re so excited to have teams of kids who are passionate and excited about these issues. As a consumer advocate, I am inspired to think that I may be interacting with the next generation of advocates.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Cool confidence coming out of Fenton High, Michigan's returning champs

By Michigan Team Captain Nick Sanborn
Michigan - The Great Lakes State! (Lots of Fresh Water Everywhere)

Competition was held at Oakland University in RochesterMichigan on February 17.

We are from Fenton High School and our team was put together from the top scorers from our Business classes. We use the LifeSmarts quizzes as warm up activities and practice for the state competition.

I am the captain and only returning team member this year, having gone to Hollywood last year, but I am confident my team will adjust to the new venue and we will compete well.

At the State Competition most of the questions were fairly simple; although there was a few that were more challenging as well. However, we came into the competition with a "we're going to win" attitude, so we were pretty confident of the outcome. Because of this confidence there weren't any major nail biters for us.

I know on behalf of my team that we are excited to be able to take part in this competition and are extremely happy and honored to have this opportunity to represent our community and school.

We are looking forward to the excitement of the competition, staying in a nice hotel, eating a Philly Cheese Steak and meeting/socializing with everyone at the competition.

Mr. Burwitz is our coach and Business teacher; he has been very helpful in our preparation and in the planning of this trip. We would also like to thank the Better Business Bureau of Michigan (BBB) for the organizing of our state event, and their generous support to help make this trip possible for our team. Special thanks to Crystal Kontos our State LifeSmarts Coordinator for all her hard work and support.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Milton High School takes Massachusetts

By Brandi Williams, LifeSmarts Program Manager

I’m thrilled that I had the chance to attend the Massachusetts LifeSmarts competition in Boston this year! Coordinated by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and held in their amazing offices in downtown Boston overlooking the Bay, I had the opportunity to see Massachusetts pride at its best.

Teams from across the state were in attendance, and there was so much incredible energy and excitement, from students, coaches and long-time LifeSmarts officials! It was fun to catch up with old friends from the Boston Fed, and meet coaches I’d only interacted with via phone and email and fax, and it was also great to see 2011 Massachusetts Champions, Palmer High School!

Something fun about the Mass competition: their judges use a buzzer to accept or reject questions! So when a team gets the answer correct, you hear a pleasant “Ding!” and when the team gets the answer incorrect, you hear an angry “BZZZZZ!” I got such a kick out of that!

At the end of a fun-filled day, the finalist teams from Milton High School and Palmer High School were neck-and-neck until the Challenge Round, and Milton High eventually took the game. It was a fantastic, nail-biting match, and both teams did an amazing job. I look forward to seeing the Milton team again at Nationals!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

We want to hear from you!

The 2011-2012 year-end survey is live and now is the time to give us your feedback! Each year, we welcome hearing from coaches and students about your experiences using LifeSmarts, as we strive to make LifeSmarts even more meaningful for participants each coming year.

Your opinions count! Because of your feedback on this student survey last year, we began offering the opportunity to take practice quizzes on one topic only. This meant that, for students who felt shaky on issues like credit, insurance, and housing, they had the new chance to brush up on personal finance. As a result of student survey feedback, students now get to select both your difficulty level and the topic (or you can still select "all topics" to emulate a real quiz) for each practice quiz that you take.

Please take 5-10 minutes to answer a few questions on our online surveys, which will help guide us in improvements for next year.

Student survey - click here

Coach survey - click here

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Championship! Philadelphia! Trivia!

The 2012 LifeSmarts National Championship is next month! With teams from across the country headed to Philadelphia this weekend, let’s take a look at some Philly trivia:
  • The Liberty Bell weighs 2,080 pounds.
  • Philadelphia is the site of the first presidential mansion and was once the United States capital city.
  • Benjamin Jackson produced the country's first mustard in 1768 and sold it to fellow Philadelphians in glass bottles.
  • Benjamin Franklin demonstrated electrical cooking in 1749. He killed a turkey by electric shock, then roasted it over a fire started by his "electrified bottle".
  • The first daily newspaper was published in Philadelphia in 1784.
  • Fairmount Park in Philadelphia is the largest city park with over 8,000 acres.
  • In a house at 239 Arch Street, Betsy Ross fashioned the first American flag.
  • If you dug straight down from Philadelphia to the other side of the globe you would end up in the middle of the Indian Ocean.
  • The nation's first hospital opened in Philadelphia 1751.
  • The Philadelphia Mint produces over 30 million coins per day.
  • Philadelphia has more public art than any city in the country.
  • Benjamin Franklin and four other signers of the Declaration of Independence are buried in Philadelphia’s Christ Church cemetery.

See you all in Philly!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Calling all Student Advisory Board applicants!

The LifeSmarts program staff has enjoyed working with the first ever LifeSmarts Student Advisory Board this past year. This year, we are looking for 10 students who will provide the participant voice for the LifeSmarts program, apply jointly with an adult coach, meet with the Student Advisory Board, create a personal action plan, and write a profile of another student while at Nationals! Interested? Click here for more information!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

2011 LifeSmarts Champs, Nickerson HS, head to Philadelphia to try for another win!

Congratulations to the Nickerson High School LifeSmarts Team for winning the title of 2012 Kansas LifeSmarts Champions. Great job to the Buhler High School team for making Nickerson work hard to win the title in a very competitive re-match at the end of the day.

Listed below are the students who scored the highest in the individual LifeSmarts topic tests:

Personal Finance: Emily Thompson - Buhler High School
Consumer Rights & Responsibilties: Jerik Allen - Humboldt High School
Health & Safety: Branson Strasner - Haven High School
Technology: Kevin Smith - Great Bend High School
Environment: Brandon Yutzy - Haven High School

By all accounts, it was very exciting day of competition!

Monday, March 5, 2012

National Competition Checklist

As state champion coaches and students begin planning for nationals, here is a checklist to help you prepare:

1. Send NCL photos of your team competing at state to or

2. Make hotel reservations.

3. Send your state champion form to NCL (this was in the packet you received from your state coordinator when you won the state competition).

4. Warm up with the practice TeamSmarts quizzes available now through March 31.

5. Coaches, mark your calendars to join the LifeSmarts staff for a coach conference call on March 28 (5 p.m. Eastern) or April 3 (3 p.m. Eastern) – the same information will be covered on both calls, plan to join us for one of them.

6. Practice (use the Daily Quiz, LifeSmarts Daily Calendars, and as many practice quizzes as you can to have fun prepping with your team).

7. Design a team T-shirt to enter into the LifeSmarts T-shirt competition.

8. Choose gifts for your Sister Team.

9. Students are encouraged to apply to serve on the 2012-13 LifeSmarts Student Advisory Board. New this year, students must apply jointly with their coach – applications are open now and due April 6.

10. Pack your sweat suit, download "Eye of the Tiger," and get ready to run up the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum like Rocky himself! 

Be sure to watch this blog for more news about Nationals.

Good luck and see you all at the National Championship!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Fenton High School for the win in Michigan!

For the second year in a row, Fenton High School will be heading to the LifeSmarts National Championship. Good going!
The winning team!
Cool trophies!
A big thank you to all our coordinators!