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Wednesday Wonders: Science Bowl 2017

March 22nd, 2017

SLOCA students recently had the honor of once again participating in the National Science Bowl! This year, we sent both a Middle School team and a High School team to the competition. Paige Bartel coached the teams, and below she shares about how the competition is run, how our teams did, and her thoughts on the experience. We also have a few comments from parents who were able to attend (and a student)! And of course we’ve got photos… let’s celebrate these hard-working, science-loving kids! 


Basic Rules & Model of Play

- Play Structure- 1 round consists of (2) 8-minute halves, and a 2-minute break, with a maximum of 25 questions. Middle School students play 5 rounds, and High School students play 8 rounds. 8 of the 32 teams go on to an elimination round after lunch, and the winning team gets a free trip to Washington DC! 

- 2 types of questions- toss up (4 points) and bonus (10 points). Anyone can buzz in to answer a toss up question (they have 5 seconds to buzz in from the end of the question being read), but they must wait to be "recognized" (by having their player number,  ie "B1/B2" announced) before they can answer (no talking or communicating allowed during toss up questions). If they get it wrong, the other team has an additional 5 seconds to buzz in and try to answer. If you get it right, your team gets a bonus question. For bonus questions, you get 20 seconds from the end of the question to discuss the question/answer with your team, but only the team captain can give the answer to the judge. Right or wrong, a new toss up question will follow the bonus question. 

HS Science Bowl Competition, Feb 11th, CSU Bakersfield 

Team: Isaiah Ferrarini, Quinn Ferrarini, Owen Lacey, and Sammy Rein
Asst. Coach: Emily Ferrarini

It was an early start- we had to be at CSU Bakersfield by 7:15 am! The morning was an 8-game round robin style, and each team played 7 games, and had one bye... the rounds lasted 20 minutes, and a new one started every 30 minutes. Considering that our team was young- 1 junior and 3 freshman (who had only had 1/2 year of HS level science)- and the extreme difficulty of the practice questions provided, my hope was that our team would win at least one round... but they didn't. THEY WON FOUR! They did so well, in fact, that they made it to the playoff round! At the end of the day, they placed 8th out of 32 teams. I was seriously impressed! By their senior year, this team will be a force to be reckoned with. 

MS Science Bowl Competition, Feb 25th, Cal Poly 

Team 1: Enrique Lecha, Owen Turner, Landon Kwiatek, Malia Maire, Mikayla Maire
Team 2: Jordyn Cheatum, Michael Curzan, Nick Bircher, Dylan Perneel
Asst. Coach: Amy Turner

For the MS competition, we had a much easier drive... practically our home turf! The morning was a 5-game round robin style, and each team played all 5 rounds. The schedule was the same as the HS: each round lasted 20 minutes, and a new one started every 30 minutes. Since we had two teams, I didn't get to sit in on every round, so Assistant Coach Mrs. Turner and I switched off. 

Team One was a group of students who had been practicing together since December, and Enrique and Owen both played on our MS team last year. They came out of the gate strong, and won their first round! Team Two was a group of students that had been interested in participating, but we were not able to confirm a second team until a week before the competition. This late entry, plus the President's Day weekend meant that Team Two only got to practice once before the event. Team Two lost their first round by about 100 points, but they only lost their second round by 20 points... and by the 3rd round, they won by 100 points! All they needed was a little bit of time to warm up, and settle in. By the end of the morning, both teams had won 3 rounds, and were in the tie-breaker for the playoff rounds. 

The tie-breaker rounds are significantly more intense than normal play... each team is taken into a room, and no parents or coaches are allowed in. Each student is asked one question; if they get it right, it is +1 point, if they don't answer it is 0 points, and if they answer incorrectly it's -1 point. Both teams went through multiple tie-breaker rounds, and in the end, both teams made it to the playoffs, and in round 2, we ended up with SLOCA vs. SLOCA game! Team Two won, and ended up placing 4th overall, with Team One placing 6th. 

Final Thoughts:

The extreme mental stress of the game, and the fast paced nature of the competition is something that is really hard to grasp until you witness it first hand. Once one question is done being asked, there is no time to waste figuring out what might have gone wrong before they ask the next question. You have at most 5-10 minutes between rounds, and you can't let your performance in the previous round affect your next round... you just have to move on! At the end of day, there is much satisfaction about the questions you totally guessed at and got correct, and much laughing about the ones you *totally should have known* but didn't remember (ahem, photosynthesis and Zeus, cough). The game is fun, and I love getting to see my students in a different environment... I love just getting to accompany them on their adventures. In all, they were both really lovely Saturdays. Thank you to both teams!


Here are a few thoughts shared by parents and a student after the event:

Our students did well in ways that were somewhat unexpected to me.  In particular, it seemed that their knowledge of Latin gave them an advantage in that they could sometimes decipher parts of a word that the students from other teams would simply not know at all unless they had already learned the term by rote.

– Steve Rein, parent


Our family had the chance to experience Science Bowl for the first time this year and everyone truly had a blast!

I interviewed my kids after school today - Madeleine (preschooler) and Michael (8th grader) - and here is what they shared with me...

Madeleine - The best part of the day was getting to play with Brooklynn and Zoe and my SLOCA sisters.

Michael - I felt like I played better than I thought I would.  Our team was defeated in the first round.  The second round, we barely lost and by the third round, we had gained momentum and we won!  At one point, we won 108 to 36!  Our teams did really well and we even had the chance to play a SLOCA vs SLOCA round.  The tiebreaker questions were tough!  I loved it!  I would love to be part of Science Bowl next year.

– Jenny Curzan, parent 


As a first-time parent spectator of the Science Bowl, I was very impressed by Team SLOCA's resiliency, composure, collaboration, and of course its instant ability to recall scientific and mathematical knowledge.  Moreover, having competed successfully against very strong and experienced opponents once again reflects SLOCA's commitment to developing well-rounded, lifelong thinkers, learners, and citizens!

– Peter Perneel, parent