It was all smiles on both sides — winning and losing — after Mattaponi Elementary beat Bowie’s Pointer Ridge Elementary 230-170 in the first elementary school quarterfinal round of this year’s Science Bowl.
The Upper Marlboro school will next compete against Berwyn Heights Elementary during the semifinals on Jan. 28.
“I like kids who have an obvious good time,” said Science Bowl host Dave Zahren. “Not one of the teams gave up. There was never a loss of heart.”
The Science Bowl is a televised game show that quizzes Prince George’s public elementary and middle school students on their science knowledge. Questions are worth up to 25 points and point values are based on question difficulty.
Mattaponi performed strongly throughout the entire competition, but Pointer Ridge made some high-scoring comebacks to the very end.
“It was very competitive. I am quite surprised we won because those other teams were really good,” said Rennie Pearson, 11, a Mattaponi sixth grader.
The Pointer Ridge team of Bowie fifth-graders Carlos Brockenborough, 10, team captain Madison Green and Bryanna Hurst, both 11, said they were happy to be there no matter what the outcome.
“The game went perfectly fine. Everyone has their competitions where they win or lose. This was our time to lose,” Carlos said.
Both teams scored a slew of 25-point answers at the end.
The Mattaponi team correctly answered that gasoline is graded by density, and the Pointer Ridge team was the first to the buzzer with the answer “respiration” when asked what process dries out food.
The Mattaponi team of fifth- and sixth-graders Bryce Stephens, team captain Noorah Baukman, 11, Pearson and alternate Nilah Blackmon, 11, all of Upper Marlboro, got a smooth start with a 275-130 win against Tayac Elementary in Fort Washington.
The Tayac team of fifth-graders Gabrielle Stephens, team captain Aldrin Duran and Nathan Campusano, all 10 years old, answered one of the day’s toughest questions.
“I’m still amazed at the ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ answer,” Zahren said, referring to a 25-point question asking players to name the singing bird species that’s also mentioned in a famous book.
“All of the answers were on the tip of my tongue, I just couldn’t answer in time,” Aldrin said, calling the game “pretty nervously awesome.”
Pointer Ridge started out defeating the Forest Heights Elementary team of sixth-graders Josseline Palacios, 11, team captain Amy Monzon, 12, and Tyante Rollins, 11, by a score of 215-165.
Forest Heights competed for its first time in the Science Bowl’s 28-year history, Zahren said.
The school earned a last-minute spot about two weeks ago after Greenbelt Elementary dropped out because the team wasn’t ready in time, he said.
Prince George’s County has more than 150 elementary and middle schools, but only 40 can compete in the Science Bowl. Schools are selected on a first-come-first-serve basis, but schools that have already competed are automatically selected for future games, Zahren said. This year, several schools dropped out so wait listed schools like Forest Heights had a chance to compete.
“We thought they did fairly well,” Zahren said, adding it’s tough for first-time teams to get used to the game’s format.
Forest Heights Principal Chester Brookover said he hopes to have a team return next year.
“We’re just so happy to have the opportunity to come and participate,” Brookover said.