The Science Bowl Team competed in the annual Department of Energy 2011 Bay Area Regional Science Bowl on Saturday, January 29 at Las Positas College in Livermore. The group competed against 23 other teams throughout the Bay Area and missed qualification for the elimination rounds.
The tournament was structured into two parts of competition: a round robin to narrow down the competitors and a double elimination bracket to determine the winners of the tournament. The round robin tournament contained five matches.
“The team is casual, [as] they haven’t been competing for years,” team Coach and science teacher Carl Babb said. “The toughest teams are Monta Vista, Bellarmine College Preparatory and Mission in South Bay.”
The team competed against various high schools including Bellarmine, Saratoga, Livermore, Castro Valley and Santa Teresa.The team missed qualification by one round.
“We didn’t know what to expect going in,” team member senior Jacquelyn Cheng said. “As a first-year team, we did really well against more experienced teams.”
Although the team consisted of five members, only four were allowed to compete at a given moment in time. The game involves answering toss-up questions from categories such as biology, chemistry, energy/space, mathematics and physics. Upon answering a toss-up question correctly, the team gains four points and is allowed a bonus question. If the bonus question is answered correctly, the team gains an additional 10 points. Generally, games are won by answering the most bonus questions rather than toss-up questions.
“You need a lot of gameship,” Babb said. “It’s like Trivial Pursuit. In an ideal team, [members] are hobbyists who know a lot about some subject, though they may not have an A in science. Somebody who tinkers, who knows a lot of trivia and is more conceited is better at the game because those who have A’s can be more timid.”
However, knowledge itself is not enough to succeed in the competition. The bulk of the competition involves learning how to press the buttons before the other teams, which involves reflexes. While most of the teams all have relatively the same amount of knowledge, winning the game involves being able to buzz in the quickest.
“Most of the practices focus on the buzzing,” Babb said. “We spend a lot of the time trying to train the team’s reflexes. Those who win are fiercely competitive … they have confidence [and] are fastest with the button, [but] it really depends on the luck of the draw.”
Babb, who coached the Lynbrook team to Nationals, now coaches LAHS’s team, which was the first team to compete in four years. This year’s team consisted of Jacquelyn, juniors Jasmine Xu, Michael Liu, Jessica Cheng and freshman Xianglong Ni.
Seniors who participate in the Science Bowl can win a $5,000 scholarship if they wish to pursue a career in science, technology, engineering or mathematics and plan on attending a college in the fall.
“It looks good and puts [those who compete in the science bowls] on the top of the academic best,” Babb said. “Because the process is like an academic test, it is something to put on college entrance resumes.”
Babb said that the Science Bowl fosters a growth in scientific achievement and interest. He believes that team members are capable of exposing themselves to many different disciplines of science.
“It’s hard to find a team that will stay committed for an entire year,” Babb said. “It was a little disappointing to not have that many members this year since we started so late, but hopefully next year we’ll be able to get more members and do better.”