The Science Bowl: Cooperate to Compete


Photo Courtesy of Michael Tang

William Hsieh, Sai Kuppili, Shishir Ravipati, Elena Kim, and Joanna Fan participated in the National Science Bowl at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in La Cañada Flintridge, California. The team placed 13 out of 24 teams and had the opportunity to meet people working at JPL.

Manan Mendiratta, Contributing Writer

Science Bowl, an extremely selective club co-led by sophomore Joanna Fan and junior William Hsieh, pushed its limits to train and compete at one of the most prestigious Science Bowl competitions in the nation at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory on Jan. 26, 2019. Sophomore Shishir Ravipati and freshmen Elena Kim and Sai Kuppili competed with Fan and Hsieh.

“I am really passionate about science, and being a part of Science Olympiad, I learned that we needed to work better together,” Fan said. “I founded the Science Bowl so that we can cooperate together and learn together instead of as individuals.”

Throughout the year, Fan and Hsieh created a community of learners that are passionate about science and math and are willing to display this passion through competitive events.

“Getting into this club will benefit you academically, and it is a fun extracurricular,” club member and junior Aditya Sasanur said. “Even though you will have to work hard, it will be worth it.”

Its hard work paid off, as the team got a chance to compete at the National Science Bowl in its first year of competition. The trivia-style event consisted of four round robin groups with six teams in each group. The top two teams advance from each group, and this year Portola High’s team placed 13 and did not advance to the final round.

“The competition was fun because we got to explore JPL,” Ravipati said. “The people there were interesting because they had cool, inspirational stories.”

Although its largest competition of the year has come to a close, the team’s training has not. It expects to train until April, when next year’s competition team will be chosen.

“We really had to be understanding of each other’s strengths and weaknesses in order to do well,” Kim said. “Although the actual competition rules limit communication between team members, it was an essential component of the science bowl to get to know one another.”

Over the course of the year, the teammates have grown closer. They have bonded through after school meetings, exciting trivia sessions and fun weekend activities. This has translated to team members improving their collaboration skills and has allowed them to be in sync with each other.

“It is important to remember that you are always a team, and you can’t blame anyone for anything they caused,” Fan said. “We win together.”