The Palo Alto High School Science Bowl team is preparing for its national competition after winning the regional competition on Saturday, Feb. 2.
The team, which consists of sophomores Gary Chen and Jasen Liu, juniors Grace Lin and Jared Filseth and senior Jeffrey Ling will take an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., to participate in the national competition from April 25 to April 29.
“We’re really excited because this is the first time in three years that Paly made it to [the] national [competition],” Lin said. “We’re trying to break our record of placing seventh in nationals.”
Chen was confident in their victory at the regional competition, but the national competition will be “a new deal altogether,” he said.
“We have a chance as long as we work hard,” Chen said. “But even if we don’t win, we’ll still get a free backpack and a frisbee.”
According to Lin, the national competition will have a buzzer contest format similar to that of the regional competition, but the questions will be harder.
“The questions will be more specific and cover a wider range of scientific topics,” Lin said. “At regionals, the total scores of both teams in a round are generally in the hundreds. But at nationals the scores might be around 60, which means a single problem can turn a loss in to a win or vice versa.”
For Liu, there is definitely room for improvement before going to the national competition.
“We could have stay more focused and not gotten distracted [during practices],” Liu said. “We probably won’t do very well at nationals if we go as we are now.”
Filseth hopes that through more studying, the team can improve on some of its weaker areas.
“We’re not as strong in astronomy,” Filseth said. “Gary [Chen] knows a lot, but no one really specializes in it.”
Lin felt that the team can also improve in the energy category and study some more specific topics like organic chemistry nomenclature.
“We’ll probably have someone specialize [in these topics],” Lin said. “For a Science Bowl team, each person specializing would usually work better.”
The B team, Paly’s secondary Science Bowl team, did not get to compete. According to Lin, this is because the Paly Science Olympiad Club decided to change to a different, smaller regional competition. The regional competition in which Paly’s teams usually compete conflicted with Science Olympiad competitions.
“We usually attend our local regional at SLAC [Stanford National Accelerator Laboratory],” Lin said. “Because that is a bigger regional, we are usually able to have two teams compete. However, due to a scheduling conflict, we had to attend the Lawrence Berkeley regional instead. Since we are an outside team, it was difficult to get a second team in.”
Ling emphasized that B team experiences are important because it allows junior team members to gain experience.
“The B team is important because the B team members will someday be on the A team, and lots of practice is essential for doing well at [Science Bowl],” Ling said. “I started on the B team in 10th grade and it definitely helped me improve over the years.”
B team members this year included freshmen William Zhou and Andrew Lee, sophomores Max Krawczyk and Joseph Chang and junior Travis Chen.
All team members reported an overwhelmingly positive experience after their victory in the regional competition.
“My favorite part of participating in Science Bowl is probably realizing that all the little things I read about when I was little are useful,” Gary Chen said.
Lin found that cooperation required in a fast-paced buzzer competition made them a closer team.
“At the end of the day, we were definitely excited and found that we were a lot closer as a team than we’ve realized,” Lin said. “And we’ve definitely all put in a lot of practice and hard work and will continue to do so in preparation for nationals.”