Montgomery Blair High School's Online Student Newspaper
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Feb. 27, 2006

Blair Science Bowl team places second in regional competition

by Merlyn Deng, Online Editor-in-Chief
Blair's Science Bowl team placed second at the Regional Science Bowl competition held at the Department of Energy on Feb. 25 after losing to Wootton High School 52-94 in the final round.

Blair's team included seniors John Kim, John Silberholz, Yuan Zhang, David White and alternate junior Jeff Guo. Under the guidance of coach and magnet teacher Tran Pham, the team prepared for a round robin format competition against a number of other local high school teams. "We were competing against schools from Maryland and Delaware, and there was a separate division for D.C.," said White.

The regional event, a qualifier for the National Science Bowl competition, began in the early morning and ended nearly 12 hours later. Each round throughout the day included a host of science and math questions, according to White.

Although the team won several rounds before the finals, the team will not advance to the national competition. This marks the second year that Blair's team has not qualified for the national competition, said Pham. "I was really disappointed because we had a really good team," he said.

Pham also noted that the members of the team demonstrated strong background knowledge in broad subject areas such as genetics, cell physiology, Newtonian physics, biology and math but they were unable to effectively answer critical bonus questions because they lacked more in-depth knowledge. Additionally, the team could not keep up with the other high schools in subject areas Blair's team members had not studied in school, such as macrobiology, anatomy and physiology. "We did well in genetics and cell physiology [a course offered at Blair], but we just didn't know organisms," said Pham.

Pham considered the team's weakness a product of the team members' busy schedules rather than simply a lack of knowledge. "Everybody is busy with other extracurricular activities and schoolwork," he said, which left the team's students unable to focus solely on studying for the competition.

Captain John Silberholz agreed. "I think our team had tremendous background knowledge," he said, "But the team as a whole didn't study as much as the other competitors and we weren't able to compete on such a high level."

Pham attributed the "disappointing" second place finish to a combination of lacking preparation and the inability of students to buzz in quickly to answer questions. He maintains, however, that the students all possess excellent science and math knowledge. "We have really talented students in this program, but the key thing is they need to solve problems quicker in a short amount of time," he said.

The team's second place finish has not diminished hopes of the traditionally strong Science Bowl team members. According to Guo, the only non-senior on the current team, the team has already begun planning for next year. "We had [sophomores] Christina Zou and Junqian Zhang observe the competitions," said Guo. In addition, he said that Zou and Zhang have already begun preparing for next year and will be the foundation of a stronger team.

Editor's note: Captain John Silberholz and junior Jeff Guo are both Silver Chips staff members and were quoted in the above story out of necessity.

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  • Pham quotes! on February 27, 2006 at 11:14 PM
    "the key thing is" ha ha, that's included almost every Pham quote...
  • Disappointed Alum on February 27, 2006 at 11:49 PM
    Good lord! Not AGAIN! and a blowout, this time, too!
  • allen on February 28, 2006 at 10:29 PM
    good job all
  • bob on February 28, 2006 at 11:27 PM

    In Blair's defense, Wootton's team was the same team that won 5th place at nationals last year. They had more experience.

    This was reflected in the scores. Wootton won its games against other teams with often a 100-200 point margin. Blair won its games with only a 50-70 point margin--sometimes much less.

    The Wootton team studied more, was better prepared, and brought back experience from nationals. They deserved to win.
  • agreed on March 1, 2006 at 10:04 PM
    "The Wootton team studied more, was better prepared, and brought back experience from nationals. They deserved to win."

    That is so true. In addition, Wootton offers better classes related to biology, which was noted as a weakness of the Blair's team.

    Congratulations on making second place.
  • bob on March 2, 2006 at 4:46 PM
    RE agreed:

    Don't get all haughty now, Wootton. I was trying to say nicely that you have no lives.

  • um on March 4, 2006 at 1:42 AM
    Wotton doesn't have better classes related to biology....we have several excellent upper level classes...but this group of kids may not have taken them...
  • Er on March 26, 2006 at 8:58 PM
    The score given in this article was the score from the finals of last year's Regional Science Bowl. This year's, I think, was 116-30...
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