The group has practiced twice a week since October for the regional competition of the National Science Bowl on Saturday, Feb. 23, at Los Positas College in Livermore. They will compete against 23 other schools in the one-day event hosted by the Office of Science for the U.S. Department of Energy.
Regional winners receive an all-expenses trip to Washington, D.C., for the national competition in April.
On Saturday, two teams face off in a room during four morning sessions, with teams rotating between each session. The winners advance to an elimination round in the afternoon.
Only four students participate at once, with the fifth team member serving as an alternative.
It’s the first such competition for the five Freiler students, and since the questions cover all school subjects, team members have to “literally study everything,” according to team member Rory Flynn.
“You really can’t focus on one question, because that’s not going to get you anywhere,” said the 14-year-old eighth grader. “It was overwhelming at first.”
Rosalyn Chin, a 13-year-old eighth grader, said she was “kind of overwhelmed” when she first started studying.
“It’s gotten easier because you get used to everything,” she said. “But now I’m getting nervous since it’s getting close.”
Seventh-grader Molly Dini said that competing in a Science Olympiad — a separate science challenge — has helped her prepare for this competition.
“You just have to sit down and start reading your textbooks,” said the 12-year-old.
Danielle Williams, 13, has been getting help from family and friends at home.
“We go over how to answer the questions,” she said. “It’s about strategizing, because you might be able to get the answer by canceling out a couple other answers.”
Last year, Rory and fellow teammate Clark Thorburn attended the science bowl as observers. Clark, 14, said that experience has helped him prepare to compete this year.
“Now that we know the format, it’s good because you don’t have to be that nervous anymore,” he said. “Knowing a little bit about what could happen is really good.”
The team is coached by Maralee Thorburn, a science teacher at Freiler and Clark’s mother.
“They’ve been practicing really hard and putting in a lot of time,” she said. “They’re all really strong kids who deserve to be going on Saturday.”
• Contact Joel Danoy at 830-4229 or firstname.lastname@example.org