The Shaker High School Science Bowl team recently competed in the Virtual National Science Bowl® National Finals in May and June. The team won the regional competition in March and qualified for an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. for the finals, which was cancelled due to COVID-19. Therefore, a virtual competition took place instead. Shaker High School was the only school from New York State to qualify for the 32-team elimination tournament.
The National Science Bowl brings together thousands of middle school and high school teams from across the country to compete in a fast-paced question-and-answer format where they solve technical problems and answer questions on a range of science disciplines including Biology, Chemistry, Earth and Space Science, Physics, and Math.
The Shaker team consisted of four seniors Edward Lo, Rohan Bagchi, John Yin and Varun Mondaiyka, and junior Andrew Huang. They were coached by Shaker High School Chemistry Teachers Keith Weiss and Amber Cost.
Each round of the competition consists of two teams facing off against each other, with a moderator reading the questions. The moderator reads a toss-up question, where someone must buzz in to answer within five seconds. If the player answers the question correctly, their team then collaborates on a bonus question, which is usually more difficult.
“Science Bowl is like a sport,” Yin said. “Each match is fast-paced, intense, and exciting. Many questions are challenging, and we only have seconds to come up with an answer. It’s a speed and strategy game as much as it is a knowledge game.”
“The questions can be about almost anything,” Mondaiyka said. “They can ask anything from cranial nerves to quantum mechanics, and you can’t always find the answer in a high school textbook. Some topics are even beyond the college level and require logical thinking or complicated calculations, so teamwork and collaboration are vital in order to succeed.”
In the fall, Bagchi and Lo are going to University of Pennsylvania and Johns Hopkins University, respectively. Bagchi is planning to study chemistry and chemical and biomolecular engineering, through the university’s dual-degree program specialized in energy research. Lo plans to study biomedical engineering, through Johns Hopkins’s specialized BME program.
Mondaiyka will be enrolled at Georgia Institute of Technology and he is interested in industrial engineering. Yin is looking at potential majors in cellular and molecular biology and computer engineering as potential majors at the University of Michigan.
“Science Bowl has been one of my favorite experiences in high school,” Bagchi said. “We’ve prepared for this competition for years — and it’s so satisfying to gain national recognition for it. If you like science and math, you’ll love this competition!”
“Although our season is over this year, we are aiming to do even better in science bowl next year,” Huang said. “Anybody interested in science should definitely join!”