This weekend, 45 city high school teams are vying for five spots in the State Science Olympiad Competition at Grover Cleveland High School in Ridgewood, Queens.
With support from teachers, the amateur scientists prepared for months to compete in more that two dozen events in a range of disciplines, from technology and biology to astronomy and chemistry.
"It's great that kids can compete in science too, and not just sports. And it really creates people's passions for it as well," said Trinity School student Nicholas Kok.
"Before I wanted to pursue business, but now I want to go into the science field because everything that goes on here, it's more interesting and there's a lot of other fields I can pursue," said Geline Canayon, a senior at Grover Cleveland High School.
"A competition like this truly is critical along with other competitions like US robotics FIRST. It really helps to garner the interest, to generate the next generation of scientists," said Tom Sangiorgi, the regional coordinator for New York City.
The battle of the brains brought some students toting robotic arms to handmade instruments. For the "Sounds Of Music" competition, first-time participant Janae Barrett and her teammate had to build and play an instrument, all the while answering questions about the properties of sound from the physics perspective.
"Science is very important in the advancement of technology and when it comes to this country, we need a better force and pull on science education," said Janae.
The lessons learned at the science olympiad go far beyond the classroom.
"There is a very, very good team spirit and there's a lot of 'we' going on and they are so proud of each other," said parent Daniel Glass.
The top five winning schools will head to Buffalo for the statewide competition.
For more information about programs designed to engage students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), visit connectamillionminds.com.