Steve Yang (11) Places First in National Political Science Bee


Oliver Konopko, Staff Writer

“I knew that I had won because I did some math in my head and after two more questions, [I] knew I had it in the bag,” Steve Yang (11) said right before winning the Political Science Bee National Championships.

Political science first caught Yang’s attention when he was in fifth grade. “I used to live in Canada and the 2015 federal election was a pretty big deal,” he said. “After that, the 2016 presidential election came [in the US] so that increased my interest even more.” 

The competition, held last Thursday in Arlington, VA, tested students’ knowledge on topics related to politics, ranging from law to elections.

On the train ride to the competition, Yang studied to ensure he had all of his information prepared , he said. To study, he used online resources such as Wikipedia, The New York Times and Politico, even though his knowledge was a product of natural interest rather than formal studying, he said. “I look over the news and Wikipedia pages about politicians basically every single day.”

During the competition, contestants were separated into four rooms in groups of eight where they answered questions for three rounds. 18 of the original 33 qualifiers then went on to the semifinals, Yang said. The 18 people split into three rooms and the top two competitors from each room advanced to the finals to compete in the fifth and final round, Yang said.

Yang became more assured as the competition went on. “I didn’t do too badly [in the beginning] but I didn’t do my best … but as I got more questions I felt more confident,” Yang said.

Yang’s history teacher and advisor Dr. Elisa Milkes had not heard about the competition until Yang told her he would be absent for one day of class to compete, “I was thrilled for him,” Milkes said. “He sent me an email, which was very exciting saying that he had placed first.”

Milkes admires Yang’s depth of knowledge and his desire to learn about political science across the globe, she said. “[Yang’s win] reflects his deep, genuine, authentic interest in politics of all kinds.”