Category: Cornell alumni. Answer: Who is Erika Eason ’95?
Eason, who was a Spanish major in the College of Arts and Sciences, was selected as one of 15 teachers to compete in this year’s Jeopardy! Teachers Tournament and said her education at Cornell — which included significant “breadth and depth [of] requirements” — prepared her for the competition.
“Having that foundation of a liberal arts education sets you up really well for a trivia competition,” Eason said. “Being a Cornellian … really encouraged what was already in me, which was a general curiosity of the world.”
The Teachers Tournament is an annual special edition of the famous trivia show that requires all contestants to first take an online test, which determines whether they will be selected to participate the next round — a regional in-person audition.
“Based on how you do on the in-person rounds, your name gets thrown into a contestant pool for 18 months — and anytime during those 18 months you might get the call,” Eason explained.
Eason first tried out for Jeopardy! five years ago but had never gone beyond the regional audition.
“I took the online test three times, but I only made it through to the in-person rounds twice,” Eason told The Sun.
This time, however, she was invited to be on the show. Quarter-final matches began airing on Monday and will run until May 18.
A K-12 technology teacher for the Maret School in Washington, D.C., Eason said her time at Cornell enabled her to teach other people.
According to Eason, kids at her school are introduced to critical thinking and problem solving skills with the same tools that college students use every day.
“We do some coding and programming, and little robotics things because it’s a really great and tangible way for kids to learn technology,” Eason said. “We also have a makerspace at our school, which is a key part of our technology curriculum.”
According to a Jeopardy! press release, the Thank America’s Teachers program will award every contestant with a $2,500 educational grant to fund classroom projects.
This educational grant, Eason said, will allow her to “buy more materials in the lower school makerspace and fire [her students’] imaginations up.”
She said she plans to purchase LEGOs, circuit-related materials and possibly another 3-D printer for her students.
“Younger kids are so creative, and I just want to give them the materials to jump into,” Eason said.