A solid grounding in science facts and teamwork helped push Greenbelt Middle School from behind Tuesday to win 255-240 against the reigning Middle School Science Bowl champion Hyattsville Middle School.
“I was very happy with the way both teams played,” said host Dave Zahren. “I thought the questions were challenging, and even the judges noticed there were very few questions missed outright, and even the answers that were incorrect were plausible.”
The Science Bowl competition, now in its 28th season, is a televised quiz program pitting Prince George’s County public elementary and middle school teams against each other in a series of science-related questions worth five to 25 points, based on difficulty.
After a brief lead in the beginning, the Greenbelt team, composed of captain Rashaun Williams, Rohit Jain and Chidimma Ndubuisi-Oluavu quickly fell behind the Hyattsville team, comprised of captain Charlie Dawson, Vincent Lan and Vivian Tran, by 45 points at the close of the first half.
“The hardest part was answering the questions before Hyattsville, because Charlie is a really fast buzzer, and he really puts your thumbs to the test,” Williams said.
In the second half, Greenbelt took the lead after Hyattsville buzzed in too early when Zahren began speaking of Theory of Evolution founder Charles Darwin’s voyage on the S.S. Beagle to the Galapagos Islands and guessed the right answer — to the wrong question.
“I’m sure he knew Galapagos, but he jumped in too soon, because he thought I was going for the name of the ship,” Zahren said.
“If they’d answered that one before us, that would have been the deciding factor,” Williams said.
Last year, seven-time winner Hyattsville defeated Greenbelt on their way to the title.
Greenbelt will go on to the Middle School semifinals, being held March 18, where they will be joined by Samuel Ogle Middle School of Bowie and two yet-to-be-determined teams.
Greenbelt Middle had been absent from the Science Bowl until team sponsor Santosh Gupta brought the school back into competition last year.
Jain said part of their strategy was for he and Ndubuisi-Oluavu to hold their hands over their captain’s buzzer hand.
“So if anyone of us had the answer, we could just push down,” Jain said.
Hyattsville made their way to the quarterfinal elimination round by defeating James Madison Middle School of Upper Marlboro, 410-70, earlier in the day.
James Madison’s team captain Madison Pleas said she and her teammates Danyelle Riddick and Racheal Ayankunbi sometimes knew the answer, but could not beat Dawson to the buzzer.
Hyattsville’s Tran and Dawson said they read a lot of recent science news to keep up-to-date.
“Also, online, there are these trivia games, all fields of science, so I play those,” Tran said. “You just have to learn from your mistakes and move on.”
Greenbelt progressed to the elimination round after a 295-170 win over Accokeek Academy.
After trailing in the first half, Accokeek’s team of captain Michael Amo, Roi Catanghal and Daniel Young started to make a comeback at the start of the second half, answering several 20- and 25-point questions, but could not overcome Greenbelt’s lead.