Students competed against 18 teams through Zoom

TEMPLETON—Can you answer the following question in five seconds: How many sigma and pi bonds, respectively, are there in a molecule with the following formula: CH3CHCHCH2CH3?

This is an example of some questions the Templeton High School (THS) Science Bowl Team answered in this past weekend’s regional tournament. And in case you are interested, the answer to the questions is SIGMA 14; PI = 1. 

On Saturday, Jan. 29, THS students competed in a regional competition via Zoom against like-minded students throughout the State. Although the team did not place in the top three, their coach and teacher at THS, Jason Diodati, tells us the students had a lot of fun. This year’s competition was hosted by the Sandia National Laboratories. The students competed against 18 teams, mostly from the San Jose area.

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Launched in 1991 by the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Science Bowl® (NSB) 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. Each team is composed of four students, one alternate student, and a coach. 

The First Place team from each state regional will be invited to compete in Washington D.C. in May to be the best team in America. The Science Bowl Team is composed of students who excel in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics).

“The students love it,” says Diodati. “They really enjoy the challenge. It is very difficult. To be good at a science or math class is one thing, but to be able to do the questions and the calculations in under five seconds is another thing.”

He continues, “I don’t have any one student who knows them [questions] all. I have some that are good at chemistry, some at physics, some at math—you get a nice good mixture.”

State regionals are typically in January or February, pinning students from the Central Region of California against each other. The THS science bowl team currently has a third-place trophy from a previous competition which is displayed in the school’s trophy case.

This year, Diodati had enough students to create two teams. This year’s students competing in the Science Bowl are Owen Daulton, Zach Gonzales, Helia Bushong, Kai Heiser, Justin Grapentine, Aida Terrizzi, Tatyana Ilieva, Marc Bordonaro, Jacob Rossel, Syed Suleyman.

Some of Diodati’s students have been playing since middle school, “It’s nice to challenge them and show them there are other kids out there who are interested in science, and there are other kids out there that are good at math and science.”

Diodati’s students actually moderate the local middle school tournament, which takes place at Cal Poly. Some of his previous students now attending Cal Poly join the fun.

Normally the Science Bowl takes place in person at CSU Bakersfield. However, due to COVID, the competition takes place through Zoom.

“Because it’s on Zoom, the competition is really intense,” says Diodati referencing how Zoom has increased the competition for students. Schools from Los Angeles are now able to compete in their region. Some of these schools make the Science Bowl a class increasing the intensity of the competition.

Regional competitions are held all over California and the United States. However, each school is only allowed to participate in one regional per year. Although the THS team did not make it this year, they enjoyed the competition against their like-minded peers and look forward to next year’s competition.