Marc Summers
Ed MacKay
The Nova Quiz
PBS: October 5, 1993
Fiedler-Berlin Productions
WGBH Boston

"It's The Nova Quiz, celebrating 20 years of science on Public Television. Here's the host of The Nova Quiz, MARC SUMMERS."

The Nova Quiz was a special (and episode) that aired celebrating the 20th anniversary of the popular science show of the same name.


Eight contestants competed in a simple quiz show to win the grand prize of a science expedition trip.


The first part of the game was played in two halves, with four contestants competing in each half. Before each round, lots were held to determine the order of play. At the end of each round, the player with the lowest score was eliminated from the competition. If there was a tie for last place at the end of each round, the tied contestants were asked a question with a numerical answer; the player(s) closest to the correct answer, high or low, advanced to the next round of competition.

Round 1Edit

In this round, each contestant was asked two questions, each with a video playing on a video wall while Summers read the question aloud. A correct answer scored points, but an incorrect answer or running out of time gave the opponents a chance to buzz in and steal. Questions on the first turn were worth 5 points each, and on the second turn, they were worth 10, making a possible 15 points for each player. The three players with the highest scores advanced to the next round, while the eliminated contestant took home the Seventh Edition of the McGraw Hill Encyclopedia of Science & Technology.

Round 2Edit

Each contestant was given a category with three subcategories. They had 30 seconds to put seven items under the correct subcategories. Once they did, and there was still time left on the clock, they could change their answers if they wished. The two contestants with the most correct answers advanced to the next round, while the loser took home a Palmtop PC from Hughlet Packard, in addition to the Encyclopedia.

Round 3Edit

The two remaining contestants competed in this round. Beginning with the winner of a coin toss, they would choose a letter in the word NOVA. They were then asked six questions, and had four seconds to answer each one. Once the first player had answered their questions, the other person would choose from the remaining letters. The contestant with the most correct answers advanced to a playoff at the end of the competition, while the runner-up received a Bushnell telescope and binoculars, in addition to the aforementioned prizes.

This process repeated with the remaining four contestants, and in Round 3, the letters that weren't picked by the previous contestants were the ones they could choose from.


The winners of the front game competed in the final round of competition. This round was played in two parts:

Part 1Edit

The production team set up a chemistry and a physics experiment. The contestants' job was to predict what would happen. Each correct prediction was worth 5 points.

Part 2Edit

Each contestant was shown a picture on a telestrator. The picture contained ten mistakes. The contestant had 45 seconds to circle and explain as many of those mistakes as possible. The correct answers were only revealed after time was up. Each correct answer was worth five points.

At the end of this round, the player with the most points was the winner; the runner-up received a DEC laptop computer in addition to the other prizes. while the winner won a VHS camcorder and the science expedition trip by Earthwatch magazine, in addition to all the other prizes.

Viewer QuestionsEdit

In between segments, a celebrity guest posed a question to the viewers. The celebrity guests in this special were:

  1. Gregory Hines
  2. Ted Koppel
  3. Kenny Loggins
  4. Harry Connick Jr.
  5. Lynn Redgrave
  6. Robert MacNeil and Jim Lehrer
  7. Cheryl Tiegs



Lee Ringuette
Greg Adams
Nick Milo

Studio MusicEdit

Howard Vinitsky

Nova Theme byEdit

Mason Daring & Martin Brody


CBS Television City, Hollywood, California


  • Lockheed
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Corporation for the Public Broadcasting
  • Viewers Like You


A spin-off from the science television series Nova by Michael Abrosino


The survey reveal bell, buzzer, and the win bell from Family Feud were re-used.


Info about the special

YouTube VideoEdit

NOVA -20-10: The Nova Quiz (Full Episode)