Defending Champions Reign Supreme at 2017 Student Science Jeopardy Tournament

By Madison Reeley, WHK Student Intern; images by Richard Frederickson, Staff Photographer, and Marie Haughey, Staff Writer
Interns answer a final jeopardy question.

Maddie Hurwitz and Esther Shafer (Team B), Susanna Chen and Quinn Cavanaugh (Team H), and Thilinie Kuruppu and Sumi Mondal (Team F) answer the final jeopardy question in the third preliminary round. 

Anuk Dayaprema and Evan Yamaguchi, champions of the 2016 Student Science Jeopardy Tournament, have done it again. After a grueling competition, they emerged victorious for the second year in a row at the 2017 Student Science Jeopardy Tournament, sponsored by the Scientific Library.

Nine teams participated in this year’s Tournament, which tested students’ minds as well as their reflexes (more than a few groans of disappointment were heard from teams who weren’t fast enough on the clicker).

Throughout the tournament, teams faced clues from categories such as “General Science,” “Diseases Named After People,” “Marie Curie, Albert Einstein, or Charles Darwin?” and “E in Science.” Some of the clues included:

1. Thrust propels the weight of an airplane forward. This directly opposing force tends to hold it back. (Answer: What is drag?)

2. This scale is measured in values from 0 to 14 with 7 being neutral. (Answer: What is Ph?)

3. Sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl) is the main ingredient in this laundry product. (Answer: What is bleach?)

After the preliminary rounds, three teams moved on to the finals, which consisted of a “Single Jeopardy” round followed by a “Double Jeopardy” round. As the Double Jeopardy round began, the competition became more heated—for a time. By the end, though, Dayaprema and Yamaguchi had almost doubled the score of the other two teams. All that was left was to answer the “Final Jeopardy” question correctly.

After the judges confirmed their answer, Dayaprema and Yamaguchi took to the stage to receive their special crowns, made of test tubes and vaccine caps by the OHS interns.

Sarah Martin and McCauley Brown took home second place, while Susanna Chen and Quinn Cavanaugh finished third.

The other participating teams included:

  • Team A: Katherine Li and Eric Gu
  • Team B: Esther Shafer and Maddie Hurwitz
  • Team C: Saiteja Tammali and Manav Mathur
  • Team F: Thilinie Kuruppu and Sumi Mondal
  • Team G: Ethan Ebert-Zavos and Akhil Kapoor
  • Alternate Team: Ridhi Chaudhary and Anusha Jailwala

Walter Hubert, Ph.D., Assistant Project Officer and Contracting Officer Representative, and one of the judges, said that his favorite thing about the event was “observing the interactions between team members and how they deal with the intellectual challenges in the questions.”

He also observed an age gap: Hints about the show Star Trek weren’t as recognizable to the interns as they were to the judges and mentors.

Hubert and fellow judges Howard Young, Ph.D., Senior Investigator, Cancer and Inflammation Program, and Head, Cellular and Molecular Immunology Section, and Dina Sigano, Ph.D., Technical Laboratory Manager, Chemical Biology Laboratory, helped prepare for the event by approving all the clues.

“My favorite thing about the jeopardy tournament is the enthusiasm of the teams,” said Young. “All are very anxious to participate and that makes the event a lot of fun. It has changed a lot since its start; at the beginning the judges had to decide which team was the first to raise their flag. That was sometimes tough to do and took a great deal of judge consultation. Also, I haven’t been bribed as much with chocolate, so that’s certainly a disappointment (at least to me).”

Of the event, Dayaprema said, “I was ecstatic to see that the field of competitors was completely different from last year’s. Having new faces means that more interns are getting involved with the tournament; moreover, the competition proved to be much fiercer this year, which made the event more enjoyable overall.”

NCI at Frederick’s Public Services Librarian, Robin Meckley, added, “The Scientific Library staff works hard on this event, so we’re pleased it’s so well-received. The students appeared to enjoy the event, in spite of their nervousness and fear of the clickers. The close scores this year demonstrated how evenly matched the teams were. Our NCI at Frederick interns are really smart!”

All of the teams earned prize bags, with the winning team receiving a few extra prizes, like a beaker-shaped mug.

A crowd gathers to watch the tournament. Susanna Chen and Quinn Cavanaugh (Team H), Sarah Martin and McCauley Brown (Team E), and Anuk Dayaprema and Evan Yamaguchi (Team D) answer the final jeopardy question to determine the winner. A full crowd was in attendance for the finals. A double jeopardy question appears in the final round. (Left to right) Back rows: Alternate Team: Anusha Jailwala and Ridhi Chaudhary, Team G: Ethan Ebert-Zavos and Akhil Kapoor, Team C: Saiteja Tammali and Manav Mathur, Team F: Sumi Mondal and Thilinie Kuruppu, Team A: Katherine Li and Eric Gu, Team B: Esther Shafer and Maddie Hurwitz. Front row: Team D: Anuk Dayaprema and Evan Yamaguchi, Team E: Sarah Martin and McCauley Brown, Team H: Susanna Chen and Quinn Cavanaugh. Anuk Dayaprema and Evan Yamaguchi (Team D), Sarah Martin and McCauley Brown (Team E), and Susanna Chen and Quinn Cavanaugh (Team H) receive their prizes. Evan Yamaguchi and Anuk Dayaprema pose with their crowns.

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