Q&A with Noah Tan on creating a regional virtual science competition

Emily Sandy

Could you explain to me what the Quarantine Science Tournament is?

So, last year when lockdown started, some of my friends and I got pulled out of our science competitions. They were all canceled, like the Science Olympiad and the Science Bowl. We didn’t have much to do and we studied all year for them, so we decided to come together (and create the Quarantine Science Tournament).


Take a look at the Top 10 teams in Battle Tour during the second Quarantine Science Tournament, which was comprised of 30 teams across the Midwest. (Submitted Photo: Noah Tan)

How many people helped organize it? What was your role in creating the tournament?

We did (the tournament) twice, actually. The first time it was just me and three other people, and then the second time we got (about six) volunteer writers to help us. For one of our bigger tournaments, which was like a buzzer round, we needed 15 people total so we got 5 more volunteers after that. We didn’t have individual roles, but in terms of writing questions, each one of the four owners had their own subject and mine was physics, so I wrote most of the physics questions.

How did you organize the tournament and your ideas?

It was a whole weekend long; it started on a Friday and then ended on a Sunday in the afternoon. Each day had different events, (which) we came up with ourselves–obviously, we took inspiration from other competitions but we organized it ourselves. It was all virtual. The first tournament was just people in Indiana but (for) the second one we expanded out to the Midwest region. We are adding a third iteration to (the tournament) early next year.

Take a look at the final team bracket during day 2 of the Double Elimination Buzzer Rounds of the Quarantine Science Tournament. (Submitted Photo: Noah Tan)

How did things change from the first tournament to the second tournament? What did you improve on?

One of the biggest things that changed is that we got volunteer writers that helped us get the questions done a lot faster. So we were able to add other things to the tournament, like fun events. Besides just doing tests (and things like that), we were able to do more things with the competitors. Also, one of our events is the buzzer round, where there’s this big bracket that you have to go up and in the bracket, the more teams there are, the more rounds of (questions you have to write). We had twice as many people in the second tournament, so we needed a lot more questions. The extra writers helped us a lot. 

What were the biggest challenges while constructing this tournament?

One was just getting it off the ground. It was hard to advertise because you can’t do it in person. You can’t do it on the announcements or something at school (since) everything is virtual. (So instead,) we just posted on forums online and told our friends to get the word out. That was probably the hardest thing to do. We (also) needed sponsors for our prize pool because we didn’t have money to make (on) our own, so that was another challenge. 

How did the tournament change your personal experience of quarantine?

It gave me something big to do because a national competition that we were supposed to go to got canceled and (the preparation for the competition) was going to (make up) a large part of that time period. So, instead, we just filled (that time) in with writing questions and organizing the tournament, which was fun.

How is the third tournament going to differ from the other ones?

We’re going to take it nationally. The first one was just local, the second was regional, and this one is probably going to be national. We are going to try to allow people all over the country to participate so it’s probably going to be bigger as well. 


Click here to visit the Quarantine Science Tournament website.