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Otterbein’s McLaughlin gives advice to students and parents on the Brain Game

Otterbein’s McLaughlin gives advice to students and parents on the Brain Game

For the past few years, a familiar Otterbein face has graced the television screen every Saturday evening.

Director of Institutional Research Sean McLaughlin serves as the judge on the high school quiz show the Brain Game, airing back-to-back episodes at 7 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays on 10TV WBNS, Columbus. The Brain Game pits two Ohio high school’s against each other, answering a variety of questions ranging from chemistry to grammar, and everything in between from their curriculum.

“I have a lot of fun doing the show,” says McLaughlin. “I get to meet students and parents and be an ambassador to Otterbein on set and maybe even provide them more information about our university. It’s also fun to be recognized on campus by a colleague. Sometimes, it even happens at the grocery store. ”

The quiz aspect of the show was nothing new to McLaughlin. Before coming to Otterbein two years ago, he coached a science bowl team while teaching middle school in Maryland. He eventually took a position at The Ohio State University which required writing and producing multimedia presentations at student orientations, giving him on camera experience. McLaughlin heard about the opening for a new judge on the show and sent in an audition tape. The Brain Game staff loved it and he became their new judge, a position McLaughlin wanted to make his own right away.

“Originally, the judge would have two 30-45 second on-screen segments in between rounds to recap what had happened so far. I thought, ‘we could be doing so much more with these moments to educate parents and students about college preparation and life on campus.’ We made the switch and never looked back,” said McLaughlin.

With more than 30 episodes per season, McLaughlin concedes coming up with new content to share with viewers can be a daunting task. He says luckily his coworkers have been a major resource for him.

“Otterbein faculty and staff have welcomed talking with me about important topics to discuss on-air since the beginning. I’ve been able to gather advice from the Center for Career and Professional Development on internships, the Center for Community Engagement on experiential learning, Student Financial Services on scholarships and the list goes on,” says McLaughlin. “I always want to mix it up and keep those segments fresh.”

Besides sharing tips and advice during the game, McLaughlin works with the host and scorekeeper to make sure all the questions received from their third-party service are clear and concise, rewriting when needed to make them less ambiguous. McLaughlin has created new categories for the show, including the Ohio history round, and game formats, such as the head-to-head round. He also serves as a liaison to the teams’ advisers when a discrepancy in scoring or question about an answer arises. McLaughlin will then do research and make any adjustments needed.

“I try not to be like the Jeopardy judges,” said McLaughlin jokingly. “I work really hard to not take points away from a team and give them as many as possible.”

McLaughlin hopes to stay with the Brain Game as long as he can. He sees his role not only as important to the game but also to Otterbein.

“Being on the show is just another way to demonstrate Otterbein’s commitment to reaching out to students all across Ohio and from all different backgrounds, geographically and academically. They get to see how a smaller, private school can do just as many cool things as any other institution.”

Visit the Brain Game website for more information on the show, schedule and team standings.