Niskayuna continues strong showing at the Science Bowl, with Van Antwerp headed to nationals

The students on the Van Antwerp Science Bowl Team stand side by with two students at the center holding a trophy.Left to right: Aarush Iyengar, 8th grade; Arjun Rangarajan, 8th grade; Tejas Jacob, 6th grade; Gideon Goldberg, 8th grade; and Brian Sun, 7th grade, after Van Antwerp’s victory at the 2022 Regional Championship.

Niskayuna students continued to rise to the challenge at the Science Bowl at this year’s competition. The Van Antwerp Middle School team prevailed against some tough competition at regionals, making it the 14th time in the last 18 years that the team will be competing at the National Science Bowl. “I appreciate that we have a school and a coach and a team that can help get us there,” said Brian Sun, seventh grade, on the Van Antwerp team.

The Iroquois Middle School team also took fifth place in the event. Niskayuna High School had two teams compete and they placed second and third in the High School Regional Championship. 

The Van Antwerp team will be competing in the National Semi-Finals on Saturday, May 7 for the chance to earn a spot in the National Championship in Washington D.C. in July. Last year, they ranked in the top half of teams in the semi-finals.

The Science Bowl teams have been hard at work practicing and studying before or after school regularly since the beginning of the year.

“I’m very impressed with the team this year,” said Karen Postlethwait, the Van Antwerp team’s coach, and sixth-grade science teacher. “They motivate each other.” 

The National Science Bowl is a nationwide academic event organized by the U.S. Department of Energy that tests students’ knowledge in math and science. The event requires students to answer questions rapidly as teams face off on a range of STEM topics, from Earth science and biology to physics, math and more.

At the start of the year, each team member chooses an area or two they’re interested in to focus their studying on and to support the team when questions come up in that area. “They did a really nice job coming together as a team for regionals,” Postlethwait said. 

The questions posed to students are incredibly challenging, even according to the GE engineers who facilitate the competition each year. Scoring points requires not just knowing the correct answer, but also answering quickly. According to Monica Judd, Iroquois science teacher and team coach, the Iroquois team practiced answering tossup questions within five seconds and bonus questions within a “luxurious” 20 seconds.

The Science Bowl was held online again this year, but new team members didn’t have to go it alone in learning how to compete virtually. Arjun Rangarajan, eighth grade, is the only returning student on the Van Antwerp team and has helped guide his teammates through the ins and outs of the competition and the added challenges of being virtual. “It feels really great to be a part of the team and to help the team make it to nationals and compete with the best around the country,” Arjun said. ”It’s a really fulfilling feeling for me.”

Iroquois was able to field a team despite several unexpected changes in the team’s roster this year. Both Romita Roy and Evie Mok joined at the very last minute to give Iroquois enough members to compete. “Even more than my students’ academic prowess, I admired their willingness to persevere despite adversity,” Judd said.

Congratulations to all our teams and well-wishes to Van Antwerp as they continue to prepare to represent Niskayuna at nationals!

Niskayuna High School Science Bowl Teams A & BThe Niskayuna High School Science Bowl Teams A & B after placing third and second respectively in the Regional Championship. Front row, left to right: Iris Liu, Aishani Misra, Tarun Jacob. Back row, left to right: Ryana Sarcar, Cristina Rojo, Mihir Kulkarni, Shivam Gupta, Syed Saeed, Faiz Wareh, Alex Petrangelo.