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Science Bowl 2012: A Long, Hard-Fought Battle for First

May 1, 2012 - 5:53pm

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Zaroug Jafeel, Mathew Arbesfeld, Julia Leung, and Alan Zhou from the Lexington High School team concentrate to answer question in the final match of the National Science Bowl April 30. The Lexington team won first place in the high school competition. | Photo by Dennis Brack, Energy Department Office of Science

Zaroug Jafeel, Mathew Arbesfeld, Julia Leung, and Alan Zhou from the Lexington High School team concentrate to answer question in the final match of the National Science Bowl April 30. The Lexington team won first place in the high school competition. | Photo by Dennis Brack, Energy Department Office of Science

Livecast to an Internet audience and guest judged by Secretary Chu, Lexington High School squared off against North Hollywood High School in a sudden-death round that determined the winner of the 2012 National Science Bowl Competition on Monday.

After two days of answering questions about math and science in the fast-paced, Jeopardy-style format of the Science Bowl, the four students from Lexington, Mass., maintained their momentum to score a win for their high school, and bring home bragging rights for the year. Also that morning was the final middle school match, which elevated the five-student team from Hopkins Junior High School, in Fremont, Calif., above the 43 other competitors into the winners’ circle.

The Lexington High School team rose to the National Finals from the Massachusetts Regional Science Bowl in March, where they pushed past 16 top science teams, and then won the single elimination tournament. At the National Finals this past weekend, they were undefeated in the round-robin tournament on Saturday, which advanced them to the double-elimination bracket. During the double-elimination rounds on Sunday, they went on to beat Morgantown High School and duPont Manual High School in the No-Loss bracket before meeting North Hollywood, who rose up from the Challengers bracket, in the final round.

The final round ran into the sudden-death round when North Hollywood sprung ahead with a 107-74 victory, including one question challenged by their team captain. After momentary deliberation, Secretary Chu conceded to award points. Though the score oscillated in the first half of the sudden-death round, Lexington gained traction in the second 12-minute half with several questions in mathematics and pulled ahead to win the match and competition by 60 points. 

Similarly, Hopkins Junior High School shot through the rankings at the Northern New Mexico Regional Science Bowl at Sandia National Lab back in April, winning them a place in the Finals.  At the National Finals, they gathered seven wins in the round-robin tournament before they advanced to the double elimination round. In several hard-won victories, they sent Shahala Middle School, Harker Junior High School, and Longfellow Middle School into the Challengers bracket. In the final match, Hopkins once again met and defeated Longfellow, whose wins had floated them back into the final competition as a challenger.

For their win, high schoolers Alan Zhou, Julia Leung, Jonathan Tidor, Zaroug Jaleel, and Matthew Arbesfeld will receive an all-expenses paid excursion to Alaska. The second place team from California won a fully guided adventure tour of Great Salt Lake Park, Yellowstone National Park, and Grand Teton National Park.  

The victorious middle school team along with the seven other middle school teams and 16 high school teams that made it to the double elimination round received a cash prize of $1,000 from their schools’ science departments.

Nearly 14,000 students competed in the regional tournaments this year. Of those winners, 114 high school and 44 middle school teams advanced to the finals. 

Photos from the National Science Bowl Finals are available on the National Science Bowl Flickr Page.

 

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