Team lost in final round to last year's regional winners
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.
Merlyn Deng. Merlyn (Mer - LEEN) has an unhealthy fixation on Silver Chips Online, the Silver Chips Manifesto, red pens and serial commas. When not editing stories and racking her brain for SCO and its readers, she may be found haunting Blair's hallways or downtown Silver Spring. … More »