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Homestead High Crowned 2008 SLAC Science Bowl Champions

As Tom Brady and the (then) undefeated New England Patriots were readying themselves for the Super Bowl on Saturday, there was a competition of a decidedly different sort unfolding at SLAC. Twenty-two teams from high schools including Terra Linda High and Pescadero High came to SLAC to compete in head-to-head matches answering questions about science.

The morning consisted of a round robin in which the strongest teams separated themselves from the rest of the pack by their buzzer speed, mastery of science facts and game strategy. Many of the rounds were neck and neck with in-depth biology knowledge matched by solutions to tricky math problems. Coming into the afternoon rounds, Team 1 from Homestead High in Cupertino was undefeated and looking strong as they prepared to face San Jose's Lynbrook High in the finals.

Underdogs going in—just like the Giants in Sunday's Super Bowl—Lynbrook leapt out to score the first 22 points in the match against the undefeated favorites. The Homestead team came back to take the lead 52 to 50 just before halftime. With the clock running down, they took a 76-68 lead by knowing the chemistry of tartaric acid, but failed to put the game away, missing a 10 point bonus about ethanol and oxidation. Just as the buzzer sounded, Lynbrook's knowledge of DNA mutations earned them 4 points to make it 76-72. The game was over, but their correct answer entitled them to a try at a 10 point bonus, which would give them the match. However the ending was different than Sunday's Super Bowl, as Lynbrook wasn't able to remember the facts about Thalassemia, a little-known disease of the red blood cells, and undefeated Homestead was crowned 2008 SLAC Science Bowl Champions.

While it might not have been as highly rated as the Super Bowl, the SLAC Science Bowl had every bit as much drama. The team that emerged as champions was the best on Saturday, but every team was composed of incredibly smart and dedicated students who had spent hours practicing and learning science. In presenting the trophies to the champions, SLAC's Martin Perl commented on the scientific promise shown by all of the competitors and noted that "we are leaving you a lot of questions and problems...but you will solve them." Dr. Perl was referring to the bright future of science in the hands of the assembled students, but could equally well have been referring to next year's Science Bowl!

Travis Brooks, SLAC Today, January 22, 2008

Above image: The winning Homestead High team with Martin Perl. (Click on image for larger version.)