U.S. Academic Decathlon

2008-2009

U.S. Academic Decathlon Website

K-12 TLC Academic Competitions Resource Center



  • K-12 TLC Guide to Architecture & Design.
  • K-12 TLC Guide to Art.
  • K-12 TLC Guide to Photography.

  • I. Art Fundamentals 20%

      A. Elements of Art

        1. Line
        2. Shape/form
        3. Space
        4. Color
        5. Texture

      B. Principles of Composition

        1. Rhythm/movement/pattern
        2. Balance
        3. Contrast/emphasis/variety
        4. Proportion
        5. Unity

      C. Processes and Techniques

        1. Drawing

        • a) Traditional and contemporary purposes
        • b) Media, tools, and surfaces used
        • c) Techniques used in drawing

        2. Painting

        3. Printmaking

        • a) Traditional and contemporary purposes
        • b) Media, tools, and surfaces used
        • c) Types of relief printing
        • d) Intaglio processes
        • e) Lithographic processes
        • f) Screen printing processes

        4. Sculpture

        • a) Traditional and contemporary purposes
        • b) Media, tools, and surfaces used
        • c) Techniques used in sculpting

        5. Textiles

        • a) Uses
        • b) Range of materials and processes
        • c) Impact of geography/environment on materials and uses

        6. Photography

        • a) Traditional and contemporary techniques
        • b) Effect on painting

        7. Architecture

        • a) Techniques
        • b) Materials
        • c) Purposes

        8. Environmental Art

        • a) Purposes
        • b) Departures from traditional art forms

    II. PRE-HISPANIC ART 30%

      A. Overview of Traditions and Innovations in Painting

        A. Introduction and Overview

        • 1. Geography
        • 2. Historical and social context
        • 3. Material culture
        • 4. Sources and research methods

        B. Earliest Art: Early Hunters and the Archaic Period

        • 1. Geography
        • 2. Historical and social context
        • 3. Material culture

        C. The Pre-Classic Period

        • 1. Overview
          • a). Geography
          • b) Historical and social context
          • c) Material culture

        • 2. Selected periods and works
          • a). Olmec civilization
            • i). Historical background and geography
            • ii) Social and cultural context
            • iii) Materials and artistic developments

          • b) Selected Work: Olmec Figure Sitting, with Spread Legs, Olmec civilization, 2000 b.c.–900 b.c. (FAMSF)
            • i). Visual analysis
            • ii) Materials and techniques
            • iii) Historical context
            • iv) Significance

          • c) Zapotec civilization
            • i). Historical background and geography
            • ii) Social and cultural context
            • iii) Materials and artistic developments

          • d) The central highlands
            • i). Historical background and geography
            • ii) Social and cultural context
            • iii) Materials and artistic developments

          • e) Selected Work: Standing Female, Jalisco, 200 b.c. and Standing Female, Ancient Michoacán, 200 b.c. (FAMSF)
            • i). Visual analysis
            • ii) Materials and techniques
            • iii) Historical context
            • iv) Significance

        D. The Classic Period

        • 1. Overview
          • a). Geography
          • b) Historical and social context
          • c) Material culture

        • 2. Selected periods and works
          • a). Teotihuacán
            • i). Historical background and geography
            • ii) Social and cultural context
            • iii) Materials and artistic developments

          • b) Selected Work: Pyramid of the Sun, Teotihuacán, 1–150 a.d.
            • i). Visual analysis
            • ii) Materials and techniques
            • iii) Historical context
            • iv) Significance

          • c). Classic Veracruz and the Remojadas style
            • i). Historical background and geography
            • ii) Social and cultural context
            • iii) Materials and artistic developments

          • d) Selected Work: Smiling Head, Veracruz (FAMSF)
            • i). Visual analysis
            • ii) Materials and techniques
            • iii) Historical context
            • iv) Significance

          • e). The Maya
            • i). Historical background and geography
            • ii) Social and cultural context
            • iii) Materials and artistic developments

          • f) Selected Work: Beaker, Maya civilization, 600 a.d. (FAMSF)
            • i). Visual analysis
            • ii) Materials and techniques
            • iii) Historical context
            • iv) Significance

          • f) Selected Work: Tikal: Temple of the Giant Jaguar, Maya civilization, c.731 a.d
            • i). Visual analysis
            • ii) Materials and techniques
            • iii) Historical context
            • iv) Significance

        E. The Post-Classic Period

        • 1. Overview
          • a). Geography
          • b) Historical and social context
          • c) Material culture

        • 2. Selected periods and works
          • a). The Toltec state
            • i). Historical background and geography
            • ii) Social and cultural context
            • iii) Materials and artistic developments

          • b). The Aztecs
            • i). Historical background and geography
            • ii) Social and cultural context
            • iii) Materials and artistic developments

          • b) Selected Work: Mosaic skull and jaw, Aztec civilization, 1350–1521 (FAMSF)
            • i). Visual analysis
            • ii) Materials and techniques
            • iii) Historical context
            • iv) Significance

    III. ART DURING THE COLONIAL ERA 25%

    IV. ART AFTER INDEPENDENCE 20%

      A. Introduction and Overview
        1. Historical and cultural background

        • a) Independence
        • b) The post-independence period
        • c) Revolution

        2. Artistic developments

        • a) Artistic tendencies during the post-independence and revolutionary periods
          • i.) Painting
          • ii.) Sculpture
          • iii.) Architecture
          • iv.) Popular arts

        • b) Responses to the academy
        • c) Muralismo
        • d) Muralism outside of Mexico
        • e) Modern tendencies

      B. Selected Works:

    V. INDEPENDENT RESEARCH TOPIC: THE PALACIO NACIONAL IN MEXICO CITY* 5%

      A. Significance of the Political Center of Tenochtitlán Prior to the Arrival of the Spanish*

        B. Architecture of the Palacio Nacional*

        • 1. Style of architecture*
        • 2. Significance of the building in relation to political power*

        C. The murals by Diego Rivera (stairway murals only) in the Palacio Nacional*

        • 1. Significance of the murals in relation to the history of pre-Hispanic and post-conquest Mexico*

    Topics with an asterisk are topics that students will need to research independently. Information on these research topics can be found in most general art history textbooks, in the USAD Art Research Guide, the USAD Art Basic Guide, in encyclopedias, and on the Internet.

    NOTE: For many of the selected artworks, the museum / collection where the work is located has been indicated in parentheses. BM = Brooklyn Museum; DAM = Denver Art Museum; FAMSF = Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; LOC = Library of Congress; PMA =Philadelphia Museum of Art; SFMOMA = San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Works of architecture are located in situ.


  • K-12 TLC Guide to Economics.
  • K-12 TLC Guide to Energy.
  • K-12 TLC Guide to Teacher Resources for Economics and Business.

  • I. Fundamental Economic Concepts

      A. Productive resources are limited. Therefore, people cannot have all of the goods and services they want; as a result, they must choose some things and give up others.

        1. The basic economic problem; unlimited wants and limited resources

        2. Productive resources (factors of production): definitions and examples

        • a) Natural resources
        • b) Human resources
        • c) Capital resources
        • d) Entrepreneurial resources

        3. Production of goods and services

        • a) Goods and services are used to satisfy wants
        • b) Demand for resources, derived demand
        • c) Production costs—fixed, variable, marginal, total
        • d) Production possibilities

        4. Present, future, intended, and unintended consequences of choices

      B. Effective decision-making requires a comparison of the additional costs of alternatives with the additional benefits. Most choices involve doing a little more or a little less of something; few choices are all-or-nothing decisions.

        1. Benefit-cost analysis

        2. Marginal benefits and marginal costs

        3. Individual and social goals

        • a) Positive and normative economics
        • b) Optimization

      C. Different methods can be used to allocate goods and services. People, acting individually or collectively through government, must choose which methods to use to allocate different kinds of goods and services.

        1. The basic economic questions
        • a) What to produce?
        • b) How to produce?
        • c) Who receives the benefits of production?

        2. Economic systems and their characteristics

        • a) Market
        • b) Planned/command
        • c) Mixed market

        3. Central planning versus market mechanisms; recent examples

        4. Competition in a market economy

      D. People respond predictably to positive and negative incentives

        1. Incentives, rewards/benefits, penalties/costs

        2. Values and self-interest influence choices

        3. Monetary and non-monetary incentives

      E. Voluntary exchange occurs only when all participating parties expect to gain. This is true of trade among individuals or organizations within a nation and among individuals and organizations in different nations.

        1. Markets
        • a) Types
        • b) Dynamics
        • c) Interdependence

        2. Trade, and exchange (domestic and foreign)

        3. Barter and money

      F. When individuals, regions, and nations specialize in what they can produce at the lowest opportunity cost and then trade with others, both production and consumption increase.

        1. Specialization and division of labor

        2. Resource distribution and interdependence

        3. Absolute and comparative advantages

        • a) Definitions
        • b) Examples

        4. Free trade and trade barriers

        • a) Quotas and tariffs
        • b) Other forms of protectionism

        5. Imports and exports

        • a) Trade deficit
        • b) Balance of trade

    II. Microeconomics

      A. Markets exist when buyers and sellers interact. This interaction determines market prices and thereby allocates scarce goods and services.

      B. Prices send signals and provide incentives to buyers and sellers. When supply or demand changes, market prices adjust, affecting incentives.

        1. Laws of supply and demand

        2. Graphing supply and demand

        • a) Supply schedule and supply curve
        • b) Demand schedule and demand curve

        3. Shifts in supply and demand

        4. Factors influencing supply

        • a) Number of producers
        • b) Costs of production
        • c) Opportunity costs

        5. Factors influencing demand

        • a) Utility
        • b) Income
        • c) Price Elasticity of demand
        • d) Substitutes
        • e) Complementary goods

      C. Competition among sellers lowers costs and prices and encourages producers to produce more of what consumers are willing and able to buy. Competition among buyers increases prices and allocates goods and services to those people who are willing and able to pay the most for them.

        1. Competition and competitive markets; incentives

        2. Price and non-price competition

        3. Market structures (basic types and examples)

        • a) Monopoly
        • b) Monopolistic competition
        • c) Oligopoly
        • d) Pure competition

        4. Investment decisions

        • a) Innovation
        • b) Technology

      D. Institutions evolve in market economies to help individuals and groups accomplish their goals. Banks, labor unions, corporations, legal systems, and not-for-profit organizations are examples of important institutions. A different kind of institution—clearly defined and well-enforced property rights—is essential to a market economy.

      E. Money makes it easier to trade, borrow, save, invest, and compare the values of goods and services.

      F. Income for most people is determined by the market value of the productive resources they sell. What workers earn depends primarily on the market value of what they produce and how productive they are.

        1. Income, wages, and salaries (rent, wages, interest, profit)

        • a) Rent
        • b) Wages
        • c) Interest
        • d) Profit

        2. Derived demand and labor markets

        • a) Demand for labor
        • b) Wage rates

      G. Human Capital Development and Labor Productivity

        1. Factors influencing incomes

        2. Returns on investment in education

        3. Labor productivity

        4. Technology and productivity

      H. Investments in factories, machinery, new technology, and the health, education, and training of people can raise future standards of living.*

        1. Human and physical capital

        2. Standard of living

        • a) Definitions
        • b) Real growth
        • c) Global income distribution—examples

      I. Entrepreneurs are people who take the risks of organizing productive resources to make goods and services. Profit is an important incentive that leads entrepreneurs to accept the risks of business failure.

        1. Entrepreneurial risk and reward

        2. Profit and incentives

        3. Property rights

    III. Macroeconomics

      A. A nation's overall levels of income, employment, and prices are determined by the interaction of spending and production decisions made by households, firms, government agencies, and others in the economy.

      B. Unemployment imposes costs on individuals and nations. Unexpected inflation imposes costs on many people and benefits others because it arbitrarily redistributes purchasing power. Inflation can reduce the rate of growth of national living standards because individuals and organizations use resources to protect themselves against the uncertainty of future prices.

      C. Money and the Money Supply

      D. There is an economic role for government to play in a market economy whenever the benefits of a government policy outweigh its costs. Governments often provide national defense, address environmental concerns, define and protect property rights, and attempt to make markets more competitive. Government policies also redistribute income.

      E. The costs of government policies sometimes exceed the benefits. This may occur because of incentives facing voters, government officials, and government employees, because of actions by special interest groups that can impose costs on the general public, or because social goals other than economic efficiency are being pursued.

        1. Public Policy Goals

        • a) Special interest groups
        • b) Trade-offs
        • c) Equity vs. efficiency

        2. Policy Debates

        3. Price and wage controls

        • a) Options and Rationales
        • b) Historical Examples

      F. The federal government's budgetary policy and the Federal Reserve System's monetary policy influence the overall levels of employment, output, and prices.

    IV. International Trade and Global Economic Development

    V. THE ECONOMY OF MEXICO 15%

    The topics in sections I through III of the outline were developed in accordance with and modeled on the Voluntary National Content Standards in Economics, developed by the National Council on Economic Education in partnership with the National Association of Economic Educators and the Foundation for Teaching Economics. New York: National Council on Economic Education, 1997.

    *Asterisks indicate topics that students will need to research independently (sections I, II, III, and IV of the outline). Information relevant to sections I – IV ("Fundamental Economic Concepts," "Microeconomics," "Macroeconomics," and "International Trade and Global Economic Development") can be found in most general economics textbooks as well as USAD's Economics Basic Guide.


  • K-12 TLC Guide to Language Arts.
  • K-12 TLC Guide to Literature.
  • K-12 TLC Guide to Poetry.

  • I. Critical Reading

      A. Purpose and Main Idea

      B. Structure

      C. Restatement of Information

      D. Genres and their Characteristics

      E. Language and Tone

      F. Grammar and Syntax

      G. Vocabulary in Context

      H. Diction

    II. NOVEL: Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya (b. 1937)

      A. Background of the Author

        1. Biography of author

        2. Other writing

        3. Contemporary reception

      B. Background of the Novel

      C. Characters

        1. The protagonist, Antonio Márez, six years old

        2. Ultima ("La Grande"), a curandera, lives with the family

        3. Gabriel Márez, Antonio's father

        4. María Luna y Márez, Antonio's mother

        5. León, Andrew, and Eugene Márez, Antonio's brothers

        6. Deborah and Theresa Márez, Antonio's sisters

        7. Tenorio Trementina, accuser of Ultima

        8. Narciso, the town drunk and ally of Antonio and Ultima

        9. Lupito, deranged war veteran

        10. Various school friends of Antonio

        11. Father Byrne, priest who instructs Antonio in the catechism

        12. Luna relatives in El Puerto

      D. Themes

        1. Bildungsroman, development of youthful character

        2. Influence of myth

        3. Conflict of values

        4. Effects of war

        5. Influence of the natural world

        6. Spiritual quest

      E. Style

        1. Magical Realism

        2. Symbolism

        3. Prevalence of dreams

    III. SHORTER SELECTIONS




Social Science

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Link to the Daily Almanac

This guide last edited 08/05/2008
This guide created 06/06/2008