Spring Branch ISD Featured News

Winners at the Buzzer


Quick fingers on electronic buzzers and amazing recall of obscure facts recently earned a team of three students from the Spring Branch Academic Institute (SBAI) a national Academic Bowl first-place win at an elementary level tournament in Orlando, Florida.

International Academic Competitions (IAC) is an organization dedicated to giving students around the world the chance to compete in engaging, challenging, and exciting tournaments focused on history, geography, science, and other academic disciplines. IAC oversees academic competitions for students in over 50 countries, fostering lifelong learning and connecting like-minded peers globally.

At IAC tournaments, students compete in “bees” (individual buzzer rounds) and “bowls” (team competitions with rapid-fire questions on themes like radioactive elements). SBAI students participated in several bees and bowls at the Orlando event.

The three-member SBAI team—Jinu Kang, Austin Wang, and Bolin Zhang—qualified through an online exam to advance to regional online competitions. Coached by Willa Liao, a SBAI parent, the Dragons (SBAI’s mascot) earned the right to compete against the best Academic Bowl teams in the elementary division from across the nation in their first year together.

“I admire how the team exhibited good sportsmanship and respect toward the other teams,” said Liao. “When they missed the History Bowl final by just 10 points, they were understandably frustrated. However, they quickly adjusted, returned to the Academic Bowl competition, and ultimately won the championship.”

Other Dragons who competed at the Orlando tournament included:

  • Aditya Mandke, who received second place in the National Science Bee and was a semifinalist in Geography and History.

  • Noah Anderson and Bolin Zhang, who were quarterfinalists in the History and Geography Bees.

  • Gwyneth Galimberti, Joshua Ghattas, Pablo Sarkar, and Sean Zeng who gained valuable experience for future contests.

“We are so very proud of our Dragons,” said SBAI Director Patricia Kassir. “We celebrate their hard work and commitment. They represented their families and our school with distinction and honor. We also thank our parents for supporting their young Dragons throughout this process.”

Liao hopes the Dragons’ wins will raise awareness and attract more students to participate in academic competitions like the IAC, nurturing lifelong learning interests. “The excitement and curiosity sparked by bee/bowl questions often lead kids to explore topics in depth, fostering a lifelong passion for knowledge,” added Liao. “This enthusiasm for learning extends beyond the competition, encouraging continuous personal and intellectual growth.”

Congratulations to the Dragons for representing SBISD on the national academic stage!

We are #SBISDProud of you.