Dougherty Valley’s Science Bowl team took first place in this year’s National Science Bowl, hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy.
“Launched in 1991, the National Science Bowl is a highly competitive science education and academic event among teams of high school and middle school students who compete in a fast-paced verbal forum to solve technical problems and answer questions in all branches of science and math,” according to the Department of Energy’s website.
Students answer both multiple choice and short answer questions about biology, physics, math, earth and space science, and energy.
The competition, which was held virtually due to the pandemic, had 61 high school regional champions competing. In order to qualify, Dougherty Valley had previously placed first in the Regional Science Bowl held by Sandia National Labs at Las Positas College in Livermore. This was the sixth year in a row that Dougherty Valley took first place at the regional competition, but it was their first national win.
Dougherty Valley’s science department received $2,500 as a reward.
Co-captain Risha Chakraborty noted that participating in Science Bowl since sixth grade allowed her to “explore topics I would never have gotten exposed to otherwise” and set “an organized regimen for learning as much science as I possibly can in my middle- and high-school years.”
“Because of Science Bowl, I have been introduced to fascinating biology topics within the subfields of oncology and neuroscience that I wish to further explore for my major in college, for research, and as a career,” she continued.
Co-captain Kenneth Moon expressed similar appreciation for the program’s impact on his STEM education.
“Although I don’t intend to major in physics, the competitive atmosphere created by Science Bowl motivated me to study physics more seriously," Moon said. "At the same time, Science Bowl created a friendly community for people interested in STEM like me, which encouraged me to explore other subjects such as math and computer science that may have intimidated me on my own.”
The rest of the winning team included students Venkat Ranjan, Daniel Shen and Anugrah Chemparathy.
Both captains credited their victory to years of practice and growing familiarity with their teammates.
“Our familiarity with each other made it easier to give advice openly and honestly,” said Moon. “Though Risha and I were the co-captains, every member of the team contributed heavily to the overall team strategies we used. I am very grateful for being able to know all of my incredible teammates.”
Chakraborty agreed, saying, “I would attribute our win to our joint dedication and the cohesion between everybody on the team. After daily practices for months on end, our team was able to communicate efficiently, which ensured we were able to maximize our points.”
Katherine Huang, the biotech and anatomy teacher at Dougherty Valley who has served as the Science Bowl coach for 11 years, said, “I am proud of the mentoring and collaborative culture the DVHS Science Bowl team has developed through the years.”
She added that the winning team has been adept at mentoring other aspiring Dougherty Valley teams.