Science bowl finalizes team

December 2, 2014 — by Maya Ravichandran and Carolyn Sun

The school's Science Bowl finalizes competition teams after tryouts.

To finalize their teams, Science Bowl held tryouts over a course of three weeks, ending in late October. The A team consists of seniors Landon Chow and Shivaram Yellamilli and juniors Alex Li, Jacky Lee and Brendan Ney. Team B consists of juniors Nate Ney and Allen Shen, sophomores Nick Sum and Karena Chow and freshman Samuel Guo.

The tryouts, in which around 50 people participated, comprised of a written test covering six topics: math, physics, chemistry, biology, earth and space science and energy.

The top 24 scorers advanced to the buzzer rounds in seeded brackets, and co-captains Chow and Li, with the approval of adviser Kathy Nakamatsu, picked the top eight candidates, excluding themselves. These students then competed in the final six buzzer rounds, which were based on the six science topics, after which the captains ranked their performances. At the end of the rounds, the top three scorers, along with the captains, made the A team, and the bottom five made the B team.

All of us bring unique strengths and previous experience to the team, so I am excited to work with the talented group we’ve put together this year,” Chow said.

According to Chow, standout players include Lee, Brendan and Yellamili, who are well versed in chemistry, earth science and astronomy, respectively, and Li, who has solid overall knowledge.

Before going into tryouts, Lee was nervous. He was on the B team last year and hoped to make the A team this year.

I think the buzzer section was more nerve-wracking since we’re all competing in it,” Lee said. “Only one person can get that point, but in a written test, everyone can get a point.”

Although Lee was surprisingly “in a tough spot” after the first two rounds and his chances of making the A team were slim, he recovered in the final rounds, Chow said.

The competition in the final round was intense and heated, but that's only a testament to the strong STEM students here at Saratoga,” Chow said.

To prepare for the tryouts, members used their class notes and online resources. Brendan, who already felt confident in the more math-heavy subjects, read articles on Wikipedia about earth science, one of the subjects he struggles in.

“I figured if I got earth science down, with my math and physics I’d be able to do well,” Brendan said.

While Brendan felt confident about the written test, he too felt apprehensive about the buzzer section.

“I was nervous though because you can always have an off-day,” Brendan said. “There is only one tryout, so if you have an off-day, there is no repeat then.”

Because the team as a whole is also stronger in sciences that include a lot of math, such as physics and chemistry, and weaker in topics like earth science, biology and energy, each member of the team will focus on one subject. For instance, both Lee and Brendan will specialize in earth and space science.

Based on early practices held so far, we also need to work on trust, conviction and coordination in buzzing, but those are kinks that can be straightened out with more practice,” Chow said.

To prepare for their first regional competition on Feb. 7 at Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC), members are practicing their teamwork and buzzing skills every Friday using both written quizzes and mock competitions. According to Chow, each member also made an “honor-code commitment” to study their specialized topic individually.

“Ultimately, the nature of this event is so team-oriented that our goal in practice is to streamline everybody’s talents and tendencies into a unified point of attack,” Chow said. 

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