Most students run a mile from extra study, but Phoenix P-12 Community College students Bethany Somers and Abi Merry are devoting hours to learning new subjects.
The year 10 students have won their way through local and regional rounds of the World Scholar's Cup and will take on the world's brightest young minds in the program's Tournament of Champions at the historic Yale University in Connecticut next month.
Teams take part in collaborative writing, debating, the Scholar's Ball quiz and Scholar's Challenge exam with a focus on the 2019 theme A World on the Margins.
Unsolved mysteries, neglected history, enabling technologies, literary voices from the margins, art and music that is louder than words and social studies on the edge of society are just some of the topics they've put in hours of research to learn more about.
While the competition is heating up, the girls admit to initially getting involved because they wanted to get one of the toy alpacas that participants were awarded in the Melbourne round.
"Originally we wanted to get the toys but it's actually kind of cool; we like learning new things, looking at stuff and thinking about different topics ... there's a lot of stuff to think about," Abi said.
The girls did well in the first round in Melbourne and competed at the global round against 2000 other competitors from the Asia Pacific in Sydney in August, coming in the 36th. The Tournament of Champions features the top 100 teams from each global qualifier and additional qualifiers.
One of their three-member team is unable to travel to the US for the tournament so the girls have joined up with another competitor from New Zealand with whom they have regular Skype study sessions.
"At the beginning of the year they put out a curriculum with six different subjects and you get questions and have to research," Abi said.
The tournament isn't all academic though, with participants also taking part in social activities including scavenger hunts, dances and other events.
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"We get to meet kids from other teams and countries - it's a great opportunity to meet new people," Bethany said.
The tournament also includes a debate showcase, talent show and cultural fair with participants manning booths representing their home countries.
The girls are trying to raise money to fund their trip to the US next month, setting up a Go Fund Me campaign with a goal to raise $3000 which will cover half of the trip costs for each of them.
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