Let the Mammal Madness Begin!


Nick Lupinacci

Mr. Collier poses with his giant March Mammal Madness bracket outside his room.

March Madness isn’t just for basketball fans anymore! With March Mammal Madness, environmental scientists have invented their own way to get in on the fun.

March Mammal Madness is a tournament, held every March for the past 10 years, that simulates competitions between animal species, taking into consideration features of the individual animals and the battle environment. The winner of each contest is based on probabilities determined by scientists after researching the species. The “regions” in the March Mammal Madness bracket group animals by their size, ability to adapt to their environment or situation or special abilities – oh, and not all of the animals are actually mammals.

Mr. Collier, an environmental science teacher at North Penn High School, brought March Mammal Madness to North Penn 3 years ago, and it has been growing in popularity each year. To help generate interest, Mr. Collier creates a giant bracket of all the animals each year and puts it up on the wall outside his classroom and has the tournament advertised on the morning announcements. This year, 183 brackets were submitted by students in the high school. Mr. Collier was excited to bring this event to the school because he knows it can help spark student interest in science.

I love the amazing biodiversity this planet has to offer, and March Mammal Madness is a fun way to get students excited about that.

— Mr. John Collier

“I love the amazing biodiversity this planet has to offer, and March Mammal Madness is a fun way to get students excited about that.” Collier said.

Mr. Collier also likes that this is an activity that brings students together and builds community. To prepare for picking their brackets, students from the AP Environmental Science classes are each assigned an animal to research, and they share their findings with the rest of the class. Mr. Collier also uses their research to pick his bracket. There are also several people that help Mr. Collier with the event. He works closely with Mr. Dougherty, another Environmental Science teacher at the high school, and Mr. Boyer and Mr. McClarnon help create the giant bracket. Students also help with the bracket and with the prizes.

The maximum score that can be earned on the March Mammal Madness bracket is 138. The record held by a North Penn student is 107 points, achieved by Akshita Pawar. Mr. Collier himself is usually among the top 10 scores in the school, but he admits he has never won. Will one of this year’s participants surpass the high score and become the reigning champion of North Penn’s March Mammal Madness?