As the Samuel Ogle Middle School Science Bowl team entered halftime of their quarterfinal match Tuesday losing 100-90 to Samuel P. Massie Academy, host Dave Zahren said he saw some fear in their eyes that their rather unconventional strategy might have backfired.
“Sometimes, teams that are really confident [like Ogle Middle] go for the high-point questions first and come in and just pile up those points,” Zahren said. “But they were behind after the first break. You could see them second guessing themselves.”
But the team representing the Bowie middle school stuck to their gameplan and roared back in the second half, winning 355-115 to secure the last spot in the middle school semifinals of the Science Bowl.
The Science Bowl is Prince George’s County Public Schools’ televised quiz-show competition, now in its 27th year.
In the preliminary round, Ogle Middle defeated Suitland’s Drew Freeman Middle School by a score of 345-105, while Samuel P. Massie defeated Accokeek Academy, 250-165.
Hana Flores, 13, of Bowie, an eighth-grader at Ogle Middle, who said she wants to become a chemical engineering professor, said the idea behind their plan was to take away the high-value questions early, making it harder for opponents to catch up late in the game.
“Usually teams get the lower-point questions done early, and with only high-pionts questions left, they can catch up faster,” Hana said.
Justin King, 13, of Bowie, also an eighth-grader, said another key to their success was being quick to buzz in, whether the team knew the answer or not.
“We would buzz in even when we didn’t have the answer yet,” Justin said. “It gives us a couple extra seconds to think about the answer.”
Jeanell Maxwell, an eighth grade science teacher and Ogle Middle’s Science Bowl coach, said she could take no credit for her students’ strategy. She said Ogle Middle has never won the Science Bowl, although when Ogle was an elementary school, it won the championship in the 1993-1994 school year.
“They came up with that; that was all them,” Maxwell said. “We just meet every Wednesday after school and I ask all kinds of questions, and we have a buzzer system for them to compete with each other.”
Despite losing to Ogle Middle, Samuel P. Massie Academy in Forestville earned a win over Accokeek Academy with a key 25-point answer about chloroplasts, which are plant cells responsible for converting light into usable energy.
Khalid Taylor, 12, of Forestville, a seventh-grader at Massie Academy, said he learned a lot from the experience to carry over to next year’s competition.
“Just don’t be scared,” Khalid said. “Don’t be afraid to guess, and trust your teammates. But really, just get way more in depth with all [of the subjects].”
With Tuesday’s win, Ogle Middle will return to the semifinals March 26 to face Kenmoor Middle School.