Monday, May 3, 2010

Congratulations Cecilia, Martin and teammates!

Albany Area Math Circle students Cecilia Holodak and Martin Shreiner are members of the Van Antwerp Science Bowl team that reached the top eight at the national contest in Washington DC this weekend. Their team will be among those honored in a final ceremony at which First Lady Michelle Obama and Energy Secretary and Nobel Laureate physicist Steven Chu will speak this afternoon.

Reporter Michael Goot covered their team in an article in today's Daily Gazette, excepted below:

Van Antwerp students score high marks in D.C.:

NISKAYUNA — Van Antwerp Middle School’s science team finished in the top eight in the country at the National Science Bowl held over the weekend in Washington, D.C.

... Teams face off against each other in a Jeopardy!-style quiz that tests knowledge of biology, chemistry, earth science, physics, astronomy and math. Each finalist school receives $1,000 for their respective science department.

The Niskayuna students placed first in their division in the initial pool play and then survived three rounds in the double elimination format. [Van Antwerp's coach Connie Soron] said she was proud of the team’s sportsmanlike attitude.

“They were graceful winners and even more graceful losers when they were eliminated. It was handshakes and good luck to the winning team.”

The students also had to construct a solar-powered car. The students had some difficulty when the piece that holds the motor in place broke off just before the first time trial, according to Soron. The team had to miss the first heat while they fixed the car.

Soron credited the students for thinking on their feet.

“What’s so great about this competition is it challenges middle school students to problem solve real-life situations and find a way to accomplish their objective,” she said.

Even though the students’ car had a good time in the second heat, one of the car’s wheels went off the track in the third one.

The team has been practicing since January, spending free periods and after school getting ready for competition.

“I read a lot of books,” said 13-year-old seventh-grader Martin Schreiner. [at right above]

Eighth-grader Cecilia Holodak, 13, said she learned a lot from the experience.

“I enjoyed being here and meeting people like me that are also interested in science and math,” she said. “I enjoyed being able to meet some adults that are also in careers in math and science.”

The team also includes Andrew Stewart, Aiden Wolfe and Alexander Young.

Cecilia and Martin were also members of Van Antwerp's Chapter Championship MATHCOUNTS team, coached by Albany Area Math Circle senior Dave Bieber. Cecilia captained that winning team and also won the Countdown Round at chapter, and was also a high scorer on the Albany Area Math Circle Octahedra team at the high school state championship math meet, NYSML. Martin's voracious reading habits no doubt contributed to his strong performance in the Capital District regional spelling bee in March.

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