A team of Adelphi Elementary School students will compete to becomes semifinalists in their county’s historic science tournament after winning their first bout of competition by a hair — Medusa’s hair.
The mythological character’s snaky locks were the key to the students’ success when they answered the final question about her hair correctly and eked out a 225 to 220 victory against Highland Park Elementary.
The team will advance to play Bond Mill Elementary of Laurel in the semifinals on Feb. 25.
“I feel very excited, because the first round I was so nervous that I thought we wouldn’t make it,” said team member Jennifer Placido-Rosas, 10, of Adelphi who is in fourth grade.
The Science Bowl is a televised, seven-month tournament where Prince George’s County elementary and middle schools compete in teams of three and answer jeopardy-style questions related to science.
Host Dave Zahren said it is common for matches to come down to the last question.
“I’ve learned never to underestimate the kids, because they read dictionaries and they’re online all the time,” he said. “They know a lot of stuff.”
Carole Highlands Elementary of Takoma Park faced Adelphi in the final round after beating Dodge Park Elementary of Landover, and has only played once in the 28 years of Science Bowl history, said Gina Tuozzo, Carole HIghlands’ team sponsor and science teacher.
“I’m trying to bring it back to the school,” Tuozzo said. “[The students] all have worked so hard. The whole school is excited that we’re here today.”
First-year judge Marc Alvarez, 78, of Laurel who works for NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, and said he didn’t know the answers to many of the questions himself.
“These kids are really sharp,” he said. “It’s a great program.”
Adelphi team captain, Dalvin Nden, 11, of Adelphi said he was “a nervous wreck” before the tournament, but that he was confident in his team’s collective knowledge and his speed with the buzzer. The sixth-grader, who said he wants to become a chemist or physicist, said he practiced tapping different kinds of buzzers to prepare for the competition.
Adeola Williams, Adelphi team sponsor and sixth grade science teacher, said she was nervously pacing during the final round.
“My heart is getting all the workout it needs,” she said before the final round started. “I don’t need to go to the gym today.”
The Carole Highlands team is already planning a strategy for next year, said team member Jaylin Moreno, 10, of Hyattsville, who played as an alternate in the final round. The fifth-grader said she plans to study more and read books to prepare for next year.
After the competition, the winning team planned to celebrate by going out for ice cream despite the sub zero wind chill.
“I was shaking,” Dalvin said. “I was really happy that we won.”