Science Bowl team competes at annual competition

Daniel Ho | Photo Editor

“78% of the atmosph-”

“Bzzzz”

“A-2?”
“Nitrogen”

“Correct!”

Five Irvington students participated in the Sandia National Laboratories Regional High School Science Bowl contest on February 27th. Coached by Chemistry teacher Mr. Alex Lee, the team of senior Cathy Wang, senior Alan Tan, junior Estella Chen, sophomore Richard Cheng, and freshman Desiree Ho placed 7th at the annual competition run by the United States Department of Energy at Los Positas College in Livermore.

“I’m pretty proud of how our team did,” said Wang, the president of the Science Bowl Club. “Our mentality going in was to try our best and have fun.”

The competition, with twenty-four high school teams started, with a 4-bracket round robin where the top two teams in each bracket advanced to the double elimination round. Irvington placed second in the round robin round, and the team lost only to the eventual winners Dougherty Valley High School to be seeded in the loser’s bracket. There, they were narrowly eliminated by Amador Valley High.

Each round of the Science Bowl contest was sixteen minutes long. Four students from each team played at a time, and there was an opportunity to switch in the fifth person half way through the round. The competition had a buzzer system where students have a few seconds to answer a multiple choice question in six different categories: Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Math, Energy, and Earth and Space.

The team that answered the initial, four point “toss-up” question right hadan opportunity to answer a bonus question for ten more points. Many players buzzed in as soon as they knew the answer, which was often before the proctor finished reading the answer choices. As teams got farther into the competition, the questions increased in difficulty.

“In terms of skill level with the game mechanics, we’re really good. It comes down to knowing a bit more stuff than the other team, and that’s hard to prepare for.” said Mr. Lee. “It means that the players have to devote significantly more time than we have. Irvington students have a lot of other activities they are involved in, and cannot devote all their interest to this one thing.”

The Irvington team met every Friday after school for an hour and a half to practice their teamwork and focused on buzzing fast to improve confidence and coordination. Each of the team members specialized in one of the subject areas, and they studied their subject thoroughly at home as well.

“Science bowl motivated me to learn about more things beyond school curriculum, to use it, and retain the knowledge,” said Wang.