Science Bowl judge Kelly Day, top row center, at the Falmouth High School team’s victory at the regional championships, held over the weekend of March 13. Contributed / Falmouth High School

The Falmouth High School Science Bowl team is headed for the national competition this spring after taking home the regional title.

The five-student team of senior Shruti Joshi and juniors Eben DeSilva, Andrew Yoo, Kevin Lu and Andrew Christie edged out the seven other teams by one correct answer at the virtual Maine Regional High School Science Bowl the weekend of March 13.

Each year, over 14,000 students across the country participate in the regional and national tournaments, according to the National Science Bowl, operated by the Department of Energy.

The team said their win was the result of practice and a cohesive team structure, in which each student has their strength and plays to it.

“Andrew Yoo is our math person, Kevin Lu is really good at physics, Eben DeSilva gets the earth space,” Joshi said. “Andrew Christie and I cover biology, and we all work on chemistry. Kevin also gets energy,” Joshi said.  

Their specific fields of expertise come naturally, Joshi said, but are also due in part to recent coursework. For instance, Joshi most recently took AP biology, giving her a leg up over those who haven’t, she said.

The team meets weekly to go over practice questions and work on weak areas.

“These guys would show up at 7 a.m. once a week for a while and I wouldn’t be there; they’d be reading each other questions and running the practices,” said advising teacher Andrew Njaa.

“Usually the winning team has a ringer, someone who can answer every question, but these guys work together on everything. They are a cohesive team, it’s nice to watch,” Njaa said. 

Joshi in particular has led the charge, initiating the early meetings, Njaa said.

Last year, the team came in second place at regionals.

“It was quite disappointing last year; we were so close,” Yoo said.

The team lost some members to graduation last year and this year, “with COVID and everything,” Yoo said he didn’t have high expectations. 

“I was quite surprised,” he said. 

In pre-pandemic competitions, schools faced off head to head at science bowls, answering questions based on which team responded first. Teams who weren’t the first to respond wouldn’t get a chance to answer the question unless the other team answered incorrectly.

With competitions now being held over Zoom, a speedy response is not a factor. Each team gets a chance to answer the same question and receives points if they are correct. Additional judges and cameras were in place to monitor the teams, Njaa said.

“It was a lot more streamlined and it took some pressure off to quickly get the answer,” Lu said.

Njaa said the team practiced with the new format as soon as the new guidelines came out.

“It is a big change from the normal year, and that paid off because the meets were really tight, but in the end they had the highest score,” Njaa said. “It came down to one question.”

Despite the pressure, the team said the most important part is to have fun.

“I am so happy we got to do it this year,” Joshi said. “Especially because with the Science Bowl, we hang out, answer questions, have fun. Even if we get them wrong we have fun with that, too. So I’ve enjoyed it.”

Preliminary rounds will be held through April for all regional champions to determine the top 32 teams who will participate in the Elimination Tournament of the National Finals.

The Elimination Tournament will be held virtually May 22.

Comments are not available on this story.