What would happen if a Harpy Eagle fought a Kangaroo? Or an Ifrit sparred with a Brussels Griffon? That’s what Kingfishers found out when March Mammal Madness began.

Back in 2016, Dr. Katie Hinde of Arizona State and some colleagues decided to play with the idea of NCAA March Madness.  They staged online contests between different, wonderful animals, creating an alternate sports universe, with brackets to fill out and regular eliminations until the championship.  Learning about mammals turned into a game.

“It seemed like the school could use some fun,” Dr. Neubauer said.  “And it seemed like it could be kind of entertaining and you could also learn something.” To participate in March Mammal Madness, students filled out a bracket with the animal they thought would come out on top if two animals were placed in the same environment.

Every Tuesday and Thursday in March, battles were held online and new rankings would be posted in the hallway. Students would gather around and see if their predictions for the most recent match were correct. If they were, the students would earn more points and possibly go up in the leaderboard.

Some students were constantly moving up while others stayed in the same position. “I feel like it was fun even though I’m in last,” Baryck says. He had the honor of holding the last place position for the whole competition. Mme Gates also found herself near the bottom.  “I was really counting on that Civet to do better,” she says.

The Kangaroo became the 2021 Champion Mammal by outlasting the Harpy Eagle.  Luke picked the most correct champions, and he became our local winner.  “I’m honestly surprised,” he says. “I’m the only fifth grader who did it.” March Mammal Madness gave students the opportunity to learn more about mammal and their habits.  Thanks, Dr. Neubauer!

by Annika