Astonishingly, Midwood’s Ocean Science Team pulled off a fourth place finish at the city regional of the National Science Bowl at Hunter College High School on March 7.
The National Science Bowl is sponsored by the United States Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation in order to encourage science literacy.
"The sciences are fundamental to our understanding of the world and to progress as a whole," said programmer and impromptu coach Mr. Alan Stack. "This competition serves as a great way to get the youngest generation involved and interested."
The competition consisted of 22 teams from schools across the city such as Stuyvesant, Brooklyn Tech, Hunter, and, for the first time since 2005, Midwood. There wasn’t just one, but two hornet squads battling it out against top students from across the city.
"We’d never participated in a competition like this one, so we were just hoping for a better than last place finish," said A-Team Captain Helen Wong ’15.
Fortunately for the Ocean Science Team, the format wasn’t much different from the Bay Scallop Bowl in February because the competition was solely double elimination style.
"The question style wasn’t that different either," said B-Team Captain Joseph Parziale ’16. "Most of the material consisted of things we’d already learned in chem, bio, and physics in school or from ocean science."
The most nerve-racking moment of the competition was before it even started according to B-Team player Irla Belli ’16. "Everyone else was fervently studying last minute, and we were just there laughing and having fun," she said.
The first round was just a practice round and both teams won over their competition by at least a 20 point margin.
"That practice round was a major boost to our confidence," A-Team player Bart Rosenzweig ’16 recalled afterwards.
B-Team came close but lost the first two rounds early against Brooklyn Tech C-Team and Trinity School which cast some doubt on A-Team’s chances.
"We didn’t do great, but we got some well needed experience," said Belli.
A-Team walked into their first real match against Brooklyn Tech’s B-Team and stomped them 84-8. Question after question, players buzzed in with one correct answer after another as Brooklyn Tech sat dumbfounded.
Next, A-Team waltzed in confidently against The Browning School’s A-Team and pummeled them 86-30.
"It was a blur," said Wong, "I felt like we were answering every question, and what we didn’t know, they didn’t either."
Tougher competition awaited A-Team in round three. The best of Brooklyn Tech, their A-Team, stood in the way.
At first, it did not look good with only a third of a round gone and A-Team was already down 20 points. Miraculously, some quick buzzing, incorrect interrupts by the opposition, and some clutch 10 point bonus questions closed the gap and Midwood was up by roughly ten points with two minutes to go.
With a minute to go, A-Team converted a 4 point question but missed out on a bonus. The lead was now 56-36, but a quick answer by Tech closed the lead to 56-40. Fortunately for the Hornets, an incorrect bonus question ended the round there.
"My heart stopped," said Ms. Kimberly Lau. "Before I saw the lead was insurmountable, I thought that one question could’ve cost us."
A-Team then faced off against Hunter’s A-Team, and an early deficit was never made up leading to defeat. In the following match, a tie at 28 at the half against Hunter’s B-Team, resulted in a 94-32 loss.
"The end wasn’t too exciting because we weren’t neck and neck," admitted Wong, "However, the end result was amazing. We’d only prepared for two hours for the competition and ended fourth."
Regis High School ended up winning from the loser’s bracket over Hunter’s B and A Teams in succession, and its team will go to the state regional.
Against all odds, Midwood’s teams showed up expecting the worst and gave it their all. Competitive experience from the Bay Scallop Bowl in February helped , but dedication on the part of the players was what really gave Midwood the edge.
"Next year we’ll be ready, and we’ll try to win it all because now we know exactly what we’re getting into," concluded Mr. Stack.
Written by Samuel Makarovskiy.
This article originally appeared in the March 2015 edition of Argus.