Noah, Nadia, Ethan, and Julian practice every day during activities hour, which is held at school between eleven-thirty and one o'clock. Mrs. Olinski drills them using stacks of note cards. She has three sets of questions, addressing all subjects and various levels of difficulty. The Souls beat the other sixth-grade teams soundly in their first face-off, and then go on to beat the seventh grade, almost doubling the older students' score. It is the first time that a sixth-grade team has ever defeated a seventh-grade team at Epiphany.
Excitement at the middle school grows as The Souls prepare to take on the eighth-grade team. In the students' eyes, the younger class metaphorically becomes David to the eighth grade's Goliath. The vanquished seventh graders, realizing that The Souls could potentially accomplish an upset that has never before been imagined, begin to take sides, deciding to root for the sixth graders. On the day before the "showdown," students from both levels line the hall between the cafeteria and the sixth-grade classroom, giving Mrs. Olinski and The Souls an ovation as they pass by on their way to practice. Buoyed by the acclaim, Mrs. Olinski responds assertively and effectively later that day when Ham Knapp pulls another one of his disruptive pranks.
During a social studies lesson, Ham Knapp and one of his followers belch loudly and rudely, creating a disturbance. Mrs. Olinski calls them up before the class and challenges them to explain to the rest of the students exactly how the crass act is done. Mrs. Olinski no longer doubts who wrote the word "CRIPPLE" so cruelly on the board on the first day of school or who started the ruckus during the performance of Annie. Shamed and embarrassed, the boys discover, to their surprise, that their peers are no longer amused and that their teacher is clearly in control. Having been put in their rightful places, the boys return to their seats, subdued. So quickly as to be almost unnoticed, Nadia thrusts her left leg into the aisle, and Noah sticks out his right leg, while Ethan and Julian raise their right and left arms, respectively, into the air. The brief, spontaneous motions are indeed quite "a balancing act," as The Souls share a tactful but triumphant signal of victory on behalf of Mrs. Olinski.
Mrs. Laurencin, the principal at Epiphany Middle School, calls a school assembly for the contest between the sixth- and eighth-grade Academic Teams. During the match, Noah responds correctly to a question that the eighth graders cannot answer, to put The Souls ahead. All the members of the team combine to answer a four-part question that seals the win. The Souls emerge victorious and will go on to face Knightsbridge for the district championship.