Hunter College Campus Schools and Ward Melville High School took the top spots in the Long Island Regional Science Bowl competitions hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory on Feb. 2 and Feb. 3. The fast-paced question-and-answer contest quizzed students on chemistry, biology, physics, mathematics, astronomy, and general, earth, and computer science.
This year, the regional middle and high school events returned to an in-person, head-to-head tournament at the Laboratory after going virtual for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. About 80 volunteers including BNL staff, community members, and past Science Bowl participants helped out this year.
“Brookhaven’s Office of Educational Programs was so excited to welcome students back onsite for a full day of competition and science learning,” said Amanda Horn, a Brookhaven Lab educator who coordinated the events. “This competition provides students with a unique opportunity to show off their science skills and knowledge, and learn about the Lab as well as the DOE.”
Hunter College and Ward Melville’s first place wins in the middle school and high school competitions, respectively, secured each team an all-expenses paid trip to compete at DOE’s National Science Bowl finals scheduled for April 27 to May 1 in Washington, D.C.
The DOE created the National Science Bowl in 1991 to encourage students to excel in mathematics and science and to pursue careers in these fields. Approximately 330,000 students have participated in the National Science Bowl® throughout its 32-year history, and it is one of the nation’s largest science competitions.
“The National Science Bowl® is an extraordinary competition that brings together young minds across America through science and technology,” said Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, DOE Office of Science Director, “and I would like to congratulate the Hunter College Campus Middle School and Ward Melville High School teams as they advance to the National Finals! Good luck to you — our future scientists, visionaries, and leaders!”
Middle School Science Bowl Results
First Place: The regional middle school event held on Feb. 2 was open to teams from New York City schools in addition to schools on Long Island. Under the guidance of coaches Jennifer Kasanuki and Christopher Torpey, a team from Hunter College Campus Schools of NYC — Kieran Torpey, Gabriel Fang, Max Levin, Andres Fischer and Camille Pimentel — earned a back-to-back win for their school after being tied halfway through the final round against R.C. Murphy Junior High School of Stony Brook.
“It feels really great,” said Hunter College team captain and eighth grader Kieran Torpey. “We’ve studied really hard for this. I love science and to know a lot of science is really great.”
Second Place: R.C. Murphy Junior High School — Harry Gao, Gabrielle Wong, Menghan Tang, Willem Van der Velden, Kayla Harte (Coaches: Jillian Visser and Emily Chernakoff)
Third Place: John F. Kennedy Middle School Team 1 — Chaeten Modgil, Maya Swierupski, Jayden Brun, Aiden Karp, Ryan Perovich (Coach: Steven Nielsen)
Fourth Place: NYC Lab Middle School for Collaborative Studies Team 1 — Ryan Casey, Jonathan Lin, Vince Liao, Kolbi Canell, Daniel Berkovich (Coaches: Faithe Theresa Yates and Eva Deffenbaugh)
High School Science Bowl Results
First Place: Competing against 23 other teams, Ward Melville High School of East Setauket secured their first-place win in a second-round showdown against Great Neck South High School on Feb. 3.
Under the guidance of Coach Philip Medina, team members — Benjamin Proothi, Rithik Sogal, Anna Xing, Benjamin Zhang and Michael Melikyan — went undefeated in their first four round robin matches and reached the double-elimination finals where they faced a team from Great Neck.
Great Neck gave them their first lost, but Ward Melville High School pulled through during the tiebreaker round where they surged ahead with a rally of several questions and bonus points — an intense, yet exciting way to win.
“We didn’t really know exactly what the score was,” said Ben Proothi. “We just felt like we were ahead by a little bit, so we took the chance and ran out the clock.”
“It’s incredible,” said team captain and junior Michael Melikyan. “We’ve always been fighting Great Neck South for a top spot, and they’ve always been taking it. They always have a strong team and incredible people and we’re just happy we finally managed to pull through. We’re very grateful and very proud to be going [to the National Science Bowl].”
This marks the first time in six years Ward Melville High School has qualified for the national tournament. “They’re an amazing group of people. I have no idea how they know this stuff, it’s incredible. They were working so well under pressure. I’m very proud of them,” added Coach Medina.
Second Place: Great Neck South High School — Richard Zhuang, Laura Zhang, Brandon Kim, Eric Pei, Erin Wong (Coaches: James Truglio and Nicole Spinelli)
Third Place: Farmingdale Senior High School — Waseem Ahmad, Ali Ahmad, Madhav Rapelli, Bevis Jiang, Rayan Adamjee, (Coach: Ashley Arroyo)
Fourth Place: Jericho Senior High School — Derek Minn, Natasha Kulviwat, He Xuan, Ashwin Narayanan, Brendan Shek (Coaches: Samantha Sforza and Emily Umile)
Brookhaven Lab’s Office of Educational Programs (OEP) organized science fun for students throughout both competition days with a STEM Expo, tour, and additional science challenge. Staff and visiting students offered hands-on science demonstrations that included a cloud chamber that revealed electron tracks, sound and light sensitive microcontrollers, tricky engineering attempts, and robotic building blocks.
Science Bowl teams that did not move on to the competitions’ final double elimination rounds had the chance to get an up-close look at the STAR detector at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC), a DOE Office of Science User Facility for nuclear physics research. STAR, which weighs 1,200 tons and is as large as a house, tracks thousands of particles produced by ion collisions at RHIC to uncover clues about the universe in the moments after the Big Bang.
Teams also competed in a STEM Challenge, racing against the clock and each other to solve science and math puzzles to break several locks on boxes filled with treats. Among participating middle schools, Elmont Memorial High School earned first place, Sayville Middle School took second, and Great Neck South Team 1 placed third.
Long Beach High School completed the STEM Challenge first among participating high schools, followed by General Douglas Macarthur Senior High School, then Lynbrook Senior High School. Long Beach student Sam Adler used the periodic table to crack the code for one of the team’s final locks.
“It was so much fun,” Adler said. “I was so stressed during the competition itself and this was all good fun.”
For more information, visit www.bnl.gov.