One gray morning, I rolled half-asleep out of a car and started towards Dakota Ridge High School. It was the first time I had participated in the state science bowl competition, but I already knew from the army of volunteers in matching t-shirts and the throngs of teams from all over Colorado that I was in for a day of tense competition. I looked behind me to take my cues from the Ridgeview team veterans and was rather surprised at what they were carrying.
I do not know what I would put on the short list of things to carry to a science bowl competition. Favorite flash cards, dog-eared textbooks, and – if you are packing light – a detailed glossary would all likely have a place. But such a list would be incomplete. Where, after all, is the ultimate Frisbee?
“Go long,” yelled Colin. Beginning the day’s competition with a seemingly out of place Frisbee catch, I was initiated into Ridgeview’s unique science bowl tradition: serious science and serious fun. Too often academic competitions are stuffy affairs full of starched collars and equally stiffened persons. The day of my first science bowl competition, I did not clench my teeth; I ate peanut M&Ms. My palms did not sweat; they caught Frisbees. When I might have been fixedly reciting plant hormones and their functions, I was trying and failing to ride a RipStik. A glance at Ridgeview’s track record suffices to show that we have a great science bowl team who competes seriously, but what the numbers do not show is how much fun we have along the way.
I joined science bowl last year at Mrs. Petterson’s and several participants’ suggestion. Mostly, however, I joined for love of science. Science bowl questions have you stretching for every biology term you remember and every one you don’t. Scrambling through my solubility rules before the other team does and taking my best guess at the name of certain type of pyroclastic flow is, to me, enjoyable and gratifying. Other people, like Tyler, are more drawn by having only 20 seconds to do an integration by trigonometric substitution. Going through practice questions is a diverting challenge and reviewing old information in light of the new things you have learned, can be too.
Ridgeview’s science bowl teams love what they do and they have a lot of fun doing it. Though I was surprised to turn around and find that Colin, Blake, and Logan were equipped for competition with M&Ms, a Frisbee, and a RipStik, I realize now their fun approach to competition was only a natural outgrowth of the fun they have with science. To them as to me, serious science will also be inseparably connected to serious fun. They taught me many things, including the cleavage planes of feldspar, but the most important thing lesson they taught me was that while some teams will come for a trophy, we will always come for love of the sport and of the experience of playing.
This year, as a graduating senior, it was I who brought the Frisbee. I hope I carried well the torch of enjoying science bowl. I hope future teams carry it on.
To inquire about science bowl see Mrs. Petterson or Mr. Morse.