Thursday, February 6, 2014

Science Bowl

First of all, I'd like to say congratulations to all of the students who participated in the East Tennessee Middle School Science Bowl - you're all very bright!
I had the good fortune to be a Scientific Judge for the past couple years at the Science Bowl competition. Along with the moderator, my job was to read questions, acknowledge responses, and determine (in cases where there could be some ambiguity, such as short answer questions) whether the answer given by the student was sufficiently correct.
This year, the moderator I worked alongside was a veteran of the Science Bowl in many respects: he had not only moderated for many years, but also had been a question writer, a question reviewer, and before that was one of those very students who sat, in teams of four, across from us. Someone asked, at the end of the day, whether his participation in the Science Bowl competitions as a student had made a difference to his choice of career as an engineer.
I was glad, however, that no one asked me the same question, because I never participated in anything like Science Bowl. Sure, we had physics club in high school, but that was really just an organized way of working collaboratively on homework. I didn't do Math Olympiad or Science Bowl or any robotics competitions. Instead, I went to the Latin Olympics.
Yes, that's a thing. It happens all over the US, in fact, though the only website I could find was for the Chicago Public Schools' competition.
Instead of answering multiple choice questions about geology and physics, I was practicing oratory in a dead language.
In honor of that colorfully competitive past, I share with you this: the story of Minerva and Medusa which I had to memorize. I remember getting some sort of medal, but whether it was for this, I can't recall.
Olim Medusa, puella pulchra, in terra obscura habitabat ubi neque sol neque luna apparebat. Terra obscura puellae grata non erat. Medusa Minervam adoravit.
"Dea sapientiae, audi me," puella misera oravit. "Juva me! Terra obscura, ubi habito, mihi grata non est. Pulchra sum; pulchram comam atque faciem pulchram habeo. Nemo autem in terra obscura me videre potest. Desidero in terra clara habitare."
Dea autem Medusam juvare recusavit. Tum puella irata Minervae dixit, "Invidiosa es quod tam pulchra sum! Populum me videre non desideras!"
Tum dea irata pulchram comam puellae mutavit.
"Tu fuisti superba propter comam pulchram atque faciem pulchram. Ego comam tuam in serpentes mutavi," dea dixit irata. "Non jam tua coma erit pulchra. Tua facies erit pulchra, sed nemo te spectare poterit. In saxa tua facies viros mutabit."

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