Last year, Franklin Regional’s National Science Bowl team made it to the semi-final round, finishing in third place after a loss to North Allegheny Cyber School.
Last month, the team — including many of the same members as last year — overcame the same opponents, only this time it was in the finals. The team — one of two fielded by Franklin Regional this year — will now move on as one of 65 teams in the national competition eager to show off their scientific knowledge.
Senior Max Wang, part of the National Science Bowl team since his freshman year, said, after barely missing last year’s finals, the team jumped back into prep mode almost immediately.
“We started practicing in the spring last year,” Wang said. “Each weekend we’d do about an hour. Even in the virtual format, we still found ways to practice.”
And where last year they were focused on speed because of the competition’s head-to-head format, this year Wang and fellow team members Urvish Jain, Atharva Mayekar, Praneel Varshney and Darius Colangelo dove headfirst into science textbooks to try and expand their knowledge base as much as possible.
“That allows you to dig into subjects more in-depth than a classroom curriculum,” Wang said. “I think all our preparation has also helped me with my school classes, because I’ve seen some of the material before.”
All of the hard work paid off: each successive round, the field is cut in half, and the team was at the top of the pack at the end of every round, sometimes almost doubling the score of the team in second place.
Wang said the team also focused on efficient communication during the competition.
“In person, it was easy to communicate,” he said. “But, since it was all being done online, we used the Zoom chat feature to talk with one another. It took a little bit to get used to it, but we adapted and found it very helpful.”
The national competition, set for April 29 to May 3, will be conducted using the same format. After whittling to 32 teams, the finals will take place May 8.
Wang said he and the team will be ready.
“We have to have as much knowledge as we can, to compete with the best other high schools throughout the nation,” he said.
All regional winning schools receive $500 for their schools’ STEM activities. The top 32 teams will receive additional funds for their schools, depending on how far they advance through the tournament, with the top two teams receiving $5,000 for their schools. More than 315,000 students have participated in the National Science Bowl in its 30- year history, and it is one of the nation’s largest science competitions. More than 14,700 students compete each year.
Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Patrick at 724-850-2862, [email protected] or via Twitter .
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