Science Bowl team falls short at nationals

Aaron Chum, Author

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The Palo Alto High School Science Bowl team displays its trophy after winning the regional Science Bowl competition on Saturday, Feb. 2, at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. This is the first time in seven years that Paly's team is going to the national competition. "We're really solid, but we need to get even better," team captain Jeffrey Ling said.

The Palo Alto High School Science Bowl team displays its trophy after winning the regional Science Bowl competition on Saturday, Feb. 2, at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. This is the first time in seven years that Paly’s team is going to the national competition. Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Ling.

With an early departure from this year’s National Science Bowl in Washington D.C., the Palo Alto High School Science Bowl team looks back on a successful season that included its first appearance in the national competition in seven years.

The team, which consists of sophomores Gary Chen and Jasen Liu, juniors Grace Lin and Jared Filseth and senior captain Jeffrey Ling, faced stiff competition but still compiled a record of 5-3 in round robin play on Sunday. This put them in third place in the Bromery Division behind Walton High School of Marietta, Ga., and Mission San Jose High School of San Jose, Calif. However, only the top two teams in each division advanced to the double elimination round.

“Some of the best schools in the country were at the national competition, including very strong schools from places like Texas and North Carolina,” Ling said. “It’s always fun to watch the best schools compete since they have honed their skills to an art form, and their buzzing is nearly perfect. I was impressed by the two finalists especially, as they had an awesome and incredibly close final match.”

Some team members have been preparing since last summer, but more intense practices began after the team was officially chosen for the competition in September.

“Science Bowl tests you on both knowledge and the speed at which you can bring up that knowledge, so we prepare by reading as much science as we can and doing buzzer practice,” Ling said. “To work on knowledge, science class helps, but outside textbooks are also necessary to cover topics like earth science. To work on speed, we met every week for about two hours to go through previous competitions and practice buzzing.”

Overall, Ling is content with the performance of the team.

“Making it to nationals is already a great success to me, especially since schools in California have been historically very good,” Ling said. “At nationals, we were unfortunately unable to make the top 16, but we were very close as third in our group since [only the] top two from each group advance. I’m satisfied given that our team is so young, as I’m the only senior.”

Ling predicts that the team will continue to have success in the future.

“Our team currently has two sophomores and two juniors in addition to me, so everyone else will still be playing next year,” Ling said. “I believe they have an excellent shot at returning to nationals and doing even better than we did this year.”