BASIS Chandler Science Bowl winners


One question: “Crossing over during meiosis can be seen under a microscope is an X-shaped structure called what?”

The answer is “chiasma.” 

Another question: “What are the two largest galaxies in the Local Group?” 

The answer:  “Andromeda and the Milky Way.”

The pressure was on, as if a student group could not answer correctly, a group of four high school students sitting feet away probably will. Also, they only had five seconds.

About 20 teams from around Arizona met at Arizona State University’s West Campus in Glendale Feb. 8. The Arizona Science Bowl challenged them to answer dozens of science, technology, engineering and math questions. 

The winning team goes on to compete against the other top groups in the United States at the National Science Bowl at the end of the school year.

Shashi Jasthi, the state coordinator for the competition and CEO of Solugenix Corporation in Arizona, said he is impressed every year by the knowledge the students display. He believes the science bowl not only promotes studying outside of just classwork, but also is helpful in leading students into STEM majors in college and jobs afterward.

“We really put in a lot of effort into it, and the reason for me is because most people when you look at whether to pursue STEM education or a career, it’s usually at this level. There’s this data that shows that science or math is too hard, they’re lost forever. And we’re making sure that at the crucial time in their growth that it can be a great way to build a career and it is exciting,” he said.

BASIS Chandler, a science-based high school in the East Valley, topped Arizona in 2020, defeating nearby Hamilton High in a close match. Zarif Ahsan, Agustya Matheth, Adrian Palumbo, Ankith Chunduru and Aryan Soman will compete in the national competition from April 30-May 4 in Washington, D.C. 

The hours of learning in team practices and outside of school paid off in the victory. But, many of the students participate not just because of the chance to win, but because they enjoy the studying of science and competing at a high level.

“The main reason you do it every year is because it’s fun, and the satisfaction you get when it’s a question you know, that’s all really cool, but it’s anxiety-inducing. But that’s part of the fun,” said BASIS Chandler team captain Zarif Ahsan.

Coach Theresa Gburek was impressed with the group’s work ethic.

“They’re amazing. I feel so lucky to have this group of teenage boys that are willing to put in all this time and effort on something like this outside of school,” she said.

Participating in the science bowl for all the students not only prepares them with the facts and figures that make up the STEM careers, but also allows them to be more competitive in the job market come graduation from college.

“The ability to know a subject, and the ability to deploy the knowledge under high pressure when people are watching you, those are two different skills,” Jasthi said. “The factors of thinking on your feet and competitive pressure, is a major skill that can be used when you enter a career.”