March 3, 2004 – Country Day School finished in first place in the 2004 Science Bowl on Tuesday night at the Palms Court Harbourview Hotel, claiming victory in the event for the third year in a row.
It was an all-Crucian finale, as the Country Day students won a double-elimination round in the finals against a Central High School team that had beaten them in an earlier round.
Nearly 50 students from five schools on St. Thomas and five on St. Croix competed over two days before the two finalists emerged. In addition to Country Day and CHS, there were teams from Antilles School, Charlotte Amalie High School, Education Complex High School, Good Hope School, Ivanna Eudora Kean High School, St. Croix Seventh-day Adventist School, Sts. Peter and Paul High School and Wesleyan Academy.
It took about an hour and a half on Tuesday for the finalists to work their way through two rapid-fire rounds of questions covering math, chemistry, biology, astronomy, geology and physics. The first round ended up a nail biter, with Country Day besting CHS 28 to 26. The second round was a blowout, ending in a score of Country Day 52, Central 8.
Before heading into the decisive round, Central's coach, Allan Woods, said he was already satisfied with his team's accomplishments. "We have good teachers and good students at St. Croix Central High School, and I guess the good thing about it is this is the furthest a public school has gone in this competition," he said. "And it comes from what a lot of people in the community consider a lowly regarded school, which is not true."
Country Day's coach, Kate Baker, said Central put her team through its paces. "Central, they've got a good team. We just kicked butt," she said.
They did it by answering questions like this one: Consider a 15 kilogram squash at a height of 4.0 meters above the ground. What is the kinetic energy attained in joules to the nearest whole number the instant before it contacts the ground if it falls freely at gravity = 9.8 meters per second squared?
Actually, nobody got the right answer to that one — 588 joules — although Country Day came close with 58.8. The team let out a collective groan as the moderator pointed out that decimal point does weigh in.
Spectators at the event noticed that more questions drew wrong answers from both sides than right answers, and many went unanswered by either side. Woods said many of the questions escaped him, "and I'm a chemistry major."
He also said the best strategy for the Science Bowl is for the participants to make as many educated guesses as possible in as short a period of time as possible.
Baker said she was pleased with the level of participation among the different schools competing this year. There was a time when only two or three students from each school would show up at competitions of this kind, she said.
The 2004 Science Bowl was sponsored by the Water and Power Authority and the Education Department. WAPA has been the corporate sponsor of the event for the last seven years — and for a selfish reason, Alberto Bruno-Vega, WAPA executive director, said: It wants to cultivate its future work force.
"We're looking toward the future. Physics, science, technology, math — we desperately need all these future talents," he said.
WAPA contributes a desktop computer and six graphing calculators as prizes for the first- and second-place schools, hosts an awards dinner, underwrites live radio broadcast of the competition and supplies many of the volunteers who make the event possible, a WAPA release stated.
Country Day will represent the territory at the National Science Bowl competition April 29-May 3 in Chevy Chase, Md.
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