Science Trivia Competition Gives Prizes, Cash

In three rounds, six students competed to win money from the chemistry department and Associated Students


Contestant Jessie Poquiz wins a prize in one of the Kahoot intermission games. Photo credit: Joshua Sanchez/SAC.Media.

A familiar face, Mt. SAC president William Scroggins, announced each question and a panel of judges gave a thumbs up or down as to whether each answer was correct on May 1.

Scroggins, a former chemistry teacher, read out each question for the three round event and provided some banter to the contestants when he recognized the questions and concepts.

“Let me remind you that a number without a unit is not chemistry,” Scroggins said after a student provided only a number in their answer before realizing this and adding the unit.

Judges Decide On Science Competition
Mt. SAC president William Scroggins looks to the judges’ thumbs for whether or not the student’s answer is correct. Photo credit: Joshua Sanchez/SAC.Media.

Contestants Binod Bajgain, Alex Chichoski, Gao Ge, Rowan Lee, Jessie Poquiz and Hien Tran made it past the prior exam phase where over 60 students competed.

These six students were given each trivia question in a buzzer format. In the first round, incorrect answers were not penalized and 10 points were provided to the first correct answer, favoring speed, while the later rounds deducted points for inaccurate answers.

The second round awarded 20 points for correct answers and took away 10 for incorrect answers, while the final round took away 20 points for incorrect answers and awarded 30 for correct buzz ins.

Throughout the rounds, loud clapping could be heard for each correct answer, while a noticeable pair cheered even louder for Tran.

After round one, Cichoski received sixth place. A drawing of raffle tickets for everyone in attendance and a mini Kahoot quiz for attendees commenced before round two.

Round two ended with Ge in fifth place and a catered dinner break following a second drawing of tickets and Kahoot.

The final round was filled with tension as the final four came down to a tie with Bajgain, Poquiz, and Tran at 160 points.

Lee was at 80 and ended up in fourth place, but answered a decisive question that eliminated Tran from the running and kept the tie between Bajgain and Poquiz at 190 points each.

In sudden death, both students got the first question wrong, but for the second question an unsure guess determined the winner.

The second question read:

Use the molecular orbital model to predict the bond order of P 2

Poquiz answered first with “two″ and that was incorrect.

Bajgain, after seeing Poquiz got the answer wrong, asked if he could win by default as he was unsure about the answer.

“No risk, no reward,” Scroggins said back.

Several members of the audience knew the answer, but still felt the tension of this sudden death. Scroggins himself would even jokingly ask throughout other questions if he could get points when the contestants were stuck, and in this case offered to count up whole numbers for them to raise their hands when he reached the correct one.

Bajgain then answered the correct answer of “three” after an “uh.”

After this exchange and cheers for Bajgain, Scroggins asked Poquiz where phosphorus was on the periodic table.

“You have to look?” Scroggins asked in an exasperated tone of disbelief before explaining it was below nitrogen.

With that, Poquiz was awarded second place and Bajgain was awarded first.

The results were as follows:

The first of these competitions was held in 2002 and the competitions ran until a hiatus in 2009.

It was brought out of hiatus in the spring of 2018 with this buzzer format, and the department plans to keep it as an annual event like the fall Family Science Festival, which has run for over 13 years.

In addition to funding from Associated Students, six textbooks of the third edition of David Klein’s Organic Chemistry were donated as prizes alongside the main cash prizes to encourage students to participate.