Vikings Sail into Fifth Place at Regional Science Bowl

By Nisha Patel

On Saturday, January 26th, 2013, Irvington High School’s Science Club competed in the Department of Energy’s Regional Science Bowl at the Sandia National Laboratory in Livermore. This year’s team included junior Nathan Wong, junior George Geng, freshman Cathy Wang, junior Owen Wang, and junior Michael Zhang. As a completely new team, the competitors practiced by going over science bowl questions from past years after school every Tuesday and Thursday; they would simulate competitions and train against each other in practice rounds. Irvington placed fifth out of the 24 teams.

“I think our team performed reasonably well, although we were expecting to place higher at regionals. This year was the first year of real science bowl experience for many members of our team” said junior Owen Wang. “Now that our team knows the difficulty and styles of the competition, I am sure that next year’s team will be ready for the challenge.”

“Although I have been competing in middle school science bowl since 6th grade, high school science bowl is noticeably different; the questions went into great detail for each subject” said freshman competitor Cathy Wang. “I never expected to make it to team A and compete in the regionals in my first year at Irvington, as the competition even within the school itself is challenging, but through hours of poring over facts and textbooks, somehow I did.”

According to junior competitor Owen Wang, there are five students on each team with four competing members and one alternate. The moderator reads aloud a Toss-Up question, in which there is a multiple-choice question or short answer response. If it is a free-for-all, any member from either team can buzz in at any time during the reading to answer the question; if answered correctly, the corresponding team is granted four points. If answered incorrectly, there are two cases; if a member who buzzed in to answer the question interrupted the moderator before the question was completely read, 4 points would be granted to the opposing team who would be allowed to continue to listen to the question and answer for an additional 4 points if they answer correctly. If the member who buzzed in answered incorrectly after the question has been completely read, no points are awarded. Each side is allowed only one answer once per question. After a team correctly answers the Toss Up question, a Bonus question is read to the team who answered correctly, and only that team can answer. If answered correctly, the team earns 10 points. If not, there are no penalties.

According to junior Michael Zhang, in the morning, the team was split into four groups of six and played each team in the group once. The top two teams in each group advance to the afternoon round, which is basically double elimination. Irvington’s team was undefeated in the morning rounds, but lost both games in the afternoon.

“Our members have dedicated many hours into preparation by studying advanced science outside of school curriculum, honing in the ability to make split second decisions, and learning to work as a team. All this hard work paid off because our team was undefeated throughout the round robins, and in the end, lost by only an exceedingly slim margin,” said science club president Andrew Wang. “With continued dedication towards excelling in the science bowl competition, I look forward to seeing the team take home a plane ticket to Washington DC next year.”

From left to right: Michael Zhang, George Geng, Nathan Wong, Cathy Wang, Owen Wang