SCIENCE SCIENCE SCIENCE !!!

New high school teams looking for advice should post here.
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trulaman
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SCIENCE SCIENCE SCIENCE !!!

Post by trulaman » Mon Feb 18, 2013 5:12 pm

GAWWW ! I am really bad at science. Like seriously bad. I want to have a baseline knowledge of the subject, but I dont know where to start. Any suggestions ? Does anyone have any resources where I can learn important scientist, and/or frequent science knowledge for Quiz Bowl ? If so I would highly appreciate it, thanks :smile:
"The whole sense of the book might be summed up the following words: what can be said at all can be said clearly, and what we cannot talk about we must pass over in silence." - Ludwig Wittgenstein

Jared
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Re: SCIENCE SCIENCE SCIENCE !!!

Post by touchpack » Mon Feb 18, 2013 5:50 pm

Trying to study science "for quizbowl" (e.g. reading packets or lists) isn't going to work very well if you lack baseline knowledge--taking AP Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and/or Calculus will help you immensely, if your school offers them. I've heard good things about Khan Academy as well if you can't take any of those just yet. Once you learn the fundamentals you'll be able to understand what questions are saying (even if you don't know the answer), which is very helpful in trying to learn new things.

It's going to be very slow going at first, but if you stick with it for a while, you'll begin to see rapid improvement.
Billy Busse
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Re: SCIENCE SCIENCE SCIENCE !!!

Post by Emil Nolde » Mon Feb 18, 2013 6:15 pm

While science isn't my best area, to put things rather lightly, I would say that one of the best ways to learn pretty much all sorts of science is by communicating with your science player friends. This is, I think, a good balance between 'wow my knowledge is so legitimate and complete' and 'wow this will help me get better at quizbowl'. My personal experience has been that very little quizbowl science is covered in non-AP science courses, even if it's honors. Even the concepts you do learn about, say, the Hardy-Weinberg principle, usually are only briefly covered, so that you can get it at FTP or something similar. If you know players that are naturally gifted at science, you can ask them to explain it for you. Most of the time, even if you're on different teams, they'll be happy to help you out. I think this goes for most subjects, but it's just that science is the only one I routinely need help learning.
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Re: SCIENCE SCIENCE SCIENCE !!!

Post by alexdz » Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:25 pm

I'll second Billy here and say you should get your hands on some free online resources. In particular, I think you'll find Khan Academy useful for short pieces of information (you can watch them over and over until you understand). There are tons of other free online classes out there (I've personally enjoyed the time I've spent in Udacity's Landmarks in Physics class, for instance) as well as lots of things on Coursera and EdX, if you've got the time.
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Former midwesterner (South Callaway - Mizzou - UIUC) coping with life on the east coast.

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Re: SCIENCE SCIENCE SCIENCE !!!

Post by shrey96 » Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:47 pm

I've found MIT OpenCourseWare to be helpful for teaching me science-y things for school, quizbowl, and beyond.

Also, if you're going to approach science from a more packet study perspective (which I don't totally recommend - it's much better to get a lot of real knowledge first by taking difficult classes offered at your school), I deeply encourage you to look up the clues you are reading and learn everything about them. Of course, this is good practice for any packet studying, but if all you can remember about, say, momentum, is that p = mv and know nothing of what impulse means because it's not mentioned in the tossup, you're going to have a bad time.
Shreyas Vissapragada
Columbia University '17
Metea Valley High School '13

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Re: SCIENCE SCIENCE SCIENCE !!!

Post by trulaman » Tue Feb 19, 2013 3:53 pm

Ok thanks guys
"The whole sense of the book might be summed up the following words: what can be said at all can be said clearly, and what we cannot talk about we must pass over in silence." - Ludwig Wittgenstein

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Re: SCIENCE SCIENCE SCIENCE !!!

Post by Aishvar » Sun Feb 24, 2013 12:55 am

I don't think any of these options are necessarily the best for approaching "Quiz Bowl" science. Problem with Quiz Bowl science is that it is almost always asking conceptual or definition questions and this only works in biology out of the major sciences. Both Chemistry and Physics are primarily equation-driven. Now, what's wrong with that? You'll be spending more time in a lecture learning how to apply problem solving techniques than actually learning simple concepts, formulas, and quantities. For example, you could learn kinetic energy inelastic/elastic collisions and this would take a decent amount of time by watching a lecture and genuinely understanding the concept. I could memorize that kinetic energy is simply denoted as T in the Hamiltonian and buzz in on that. It's simply not worth your time to watch lectures.

To get to what you should actually do, I would start with the Stanford Culture Page's science links at http://ai.stanford.edu/~csewell/culture/. From here, I would go on to Protobowl, make a room and just look at each HS Science question that comes up. Learn the content in that clue and especially pay attention to laws and equations. Certain ones will come up all the time mid-way through (Biot-Savart Law, Sackur-Tetrode Equation, etc). For smaller categories, like math, you can get a really good chunk of questions by simply going to quizbowldb and typing in mathematician's name and reading over all their clues.
Aishvar Radhakrishnan, Langley HS '13

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Re: SCIENCE SCIENCE SCIENCE !!!

Post by touchpack » Sun Feb 24, 2013 3:51 pm

Aishvar wrote:I don't think any of these options are necessarily the best for approaching "Quiz Bowl" science. Problem with Quiz Bowl science is that it is almost always asking conceptual or definition questions and this only works in biology out of the major sciences. Both Chemistry and Physics are primarily equation-driven. Now, what's wrong with that? You'll be spending more time in a lecture learning how to apply problem solving techniques than actually learning simple concepts, formulas, and quantities. For example, you could learn kinetic energy inelastic/elastic collisions and this would take a decent amount of time by watching a lecture and genuinely understanding the concept. I could memorize that kinetic energy is simply denoted as T in the Hamiltonian and buzz in on that. It's simply not worth your time to watch lectures.

To get to what you should actually do, I would start with the Stanford Culture Page's science links at http://ai.stanford.edu/~csewell/culture/. From here, I would go on to Protobowl, make a room and just look at each HS Science question that comes up. Learn the content in that clue and especially pay attention to laws and equations. Certain ones will come up all the time mid-way through (Biot-Savart Law, Sackur-Tetrode Equation, etc). For smaller categories, like math, you can get a really good chunk of questions by simply going to quizbowldb and typing in mathematician's name and reading over all their clues.
So I took a look at that link, and it's really not very good. Some examples:

Chemistry section:
London forces - weak attractive forces in molecules; vary as 1/d7; only intermolecular forces among
symmetric nonpolars
Dipole-dipole interactions - attraction of opposite partial charges; vary as 1/d4
Hydrogen bonding - H to F, O, or N; like dipoles
These are really bad descriptions of intermolecular forces. First off, the radial dependences are misleading--people 99% of the time will talk about the energy of the interaction, not the force, and the energy associated with an LDF goes as 1/r^6 (also, seeing as studying this way will cause you to NOT have AP physics and AP calculus knowledge, you won't know the relationship between forces and potentials and will just be confused). Additionally, the dipole radial dependence is wrong (dipole-dipole interactions go off as 1/r^6, not 1/r^4) Furthermore, hydrogen bonds are not "like dipoles," they are a special type of dipole-dipole interaction.

Most importantly though, it doesn't actually explain what any of these things are! What is a dipole? (furthermore, what is an instantaneous dipole or an induced dipole?) What causes a London dispersion force? What is polarizability, and how does it relate to LDFs?
Enthalpy - heat content
Transition state theory - activation energy to form transition state
I don't even think I need to elaborate on how terrible and woefully inadequate these "explanations" are.

I looked on the page for the explanation on orbitals--but there isn't one! How are you supposed to learn chemistry at all if you don't even know what an orbital is?

The Biology page is just laughable. Reading these questions, sure, will allow you to answer those questions written on the page reliably. But when the same material is presented in a different format, or the clues are different, you're just going to get screwed! The physics page was comical--it's basically an equation sheet. I didn't look at any of the other pages, but I'm sure they're all equally awful as resources for actually learning things.

Your idea that you can get good at science by using Protobowl and memorizing old question content is flawed for many reasons. First off, if you don't actually understand the basic concepts behind chemistry/biology/physics (which can ONLY be acquired through reading a textbook, taking a class, preferably of AP level, or looking at online teaching resources), you're not going to understand the things you see in tossups. So, when another tossup presents the material in a different way, or uses slightly different clues, you're going to be confused and not earn the points. Sure, you can memorize that kinetic energy is sometimes symbolized T, but that's only going to get you points on terrible questions. [writers of housewrites, pay attention here: saying "this quantity is symbolized T in the definition of the Hamiltonian" is a terrible clue and you should never use it ever] Packet studying is useful for identifying the type of material which comes up, but inadequate for actually learning things about it. Furthermore, no matter how much packet studying you do, when someone comes up with a creative new clue that hasn't come up in packets before (or only rarely does so), you're screwed. At ACF Regionals yesterday, (admittedly not a high school tournament), I buzzed on a couple things that to my knowledge (and my computer's packet archive's knowledge, and the hsqb packet archive's knowledge) have never come up in quiz bowl before, based on knowledge I've acquired through classes. You just can't compete against good players with real knowledge on well-written questions.

As a conclusion, I'll state that I am not saying that you should never look at old packets ever or that packet studying is evil. Packet studying is a good way to augment your knowledge base once it is already in place. [and reading textbooks, taking classes, and looking at online teaching materials is the only way to create an adequate knowledge base] When you have real knowledge of something, it will make it easier for you to understand what is coming up in packets, and easier to remember things you learn in packets. Binary associations get lost when you don't remind yourself of them repeatedly, but conceptual understanding of something is difficult to forget, and will reward you more in the long run, both inside and outside of quizbowl contexts.
Billy Busse
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Re: SCIENCE SCIENCE SCIENCE !!!

Post by Aishvar » Mon Feb 25, 2013 1:28 am

I do agree to some extent and after reading my post, it does seem like I outright rejected connections. To clarify, I think memorizing clues and reading packets is good enough to take you from a low-level player to a medium-level player where you can buzz in on clues about half-way through. However, to get any better, or to get lead-ins/new clues that show up, you do have to learn real knowledge.
Aishvar Radhakrishnan, Langley HS '13

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Re: SCIENCE SCIENCE SCIENCE !!!

Post by Santa Claus » Fri Aug 23, 2013 11:24 pm

touchpack wrote:taking AP Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and/or Calculus will help you immensely, if your school offers them.
If you're trying to get better at science, taking the classes is really useful. Some classes will give you more quiz bowl knowledge than others; biology will be much better than physics.

Since there are many subjects in science that aren't covered in normal high school classes (eg astronomy), obtaining textbooks can be really helpful, as they are comparable to taking the class, and can even be more useful since you can skip over unimportant sections and concepts. Finding cheap textbooks at used book sales or finding e-book versions are your best bet.

Probably the best advice I can give is write notes. Seriously. Not only will you improve your knowledge of every subject you write on, you will make a resource for future members of your team to look at and hopefully add to. Since these notes are for quiz bowl, search on various databases to find out what information is pertinent and focus on that. Wikipedia is a great way to find out what things are, but if you decide to look at college packets (I would recommend this if you plan to go to nationals), you may have to just google the term, since sometimes it doesn't exist on Wikipedia.
Kevin Wang
Arcadia High School 2015
Amherst College 2019

2018 PACE NSC Champion
2019 PACE NSC Champion

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