Max Landy '19 is the winner of Bay Ridge Prep's first ever March Animal Madness contest.
While many college hoops fans watched their brackets bust and underdogs cruise to victory, students at Bay Ridge Prep had their eyes on a different contest in to kick off spring. The Upper School Science Department sponsored Mammal March Madness and the challenge came complete with life-size brackets adorning a third floor wall.
The concept was created a few years ago by a group of evolutionary biologists out of Arizona State University and has grown in popularity. This year, Science Department Chair Dr. Lisa Neesemann introduced it to Bay Ridge Prep. The basic idea is that each animal is ranked by its abilities: weapons, defenses, claws, scales, toxins, etc. That determines the seeding and leads to students heavily researching each animal to make their best educated guess on which ones will advance in the contest’s sweet sixteen and the final four.
Since everything is virtual and no actual animals battle, a random number generator uses probabilities to determine a winner for each head to head battle. Scientists then play out each battle on Twitter. They come up with scenarios and storylines that match the computer generated outcome so participants can ‘watch’ each battle unfold on Twitter and, because it’s done using a random number generator, upsets can happen! Injuries also carry over to the subsequent rounds just like in basketball. If an animal tears a muscle, it might win its current round but will be at a disadvantage for the next round! Two rounds happened each week in March with the championship held the first week of April.
For the first two rounds, the higher seed gets “home court advantage” meaning the battle takes place in their natural ecosystem so, for example, if aquatic animals battle is in the ocean. After the first two rounds, the arena is random.
After weeks of tracking the animal battles online, Bay Ridge Prep crowned senior Max Landy as its first ever March Animal Madness winner. While his bracket wasn’t perfect (he hoped for a moose to take it all; the Bengal tiger was the winner of the Animal Final Four), he led all other Bay Ridge Prep brackets in points and was happy that he joined in on the fun.
“It was an exciting way to learn more about animals, how they can respond to different environments and how they defend themselves against threats,” Landy said about participating in March Animal Madness. “It definitely increased my interest in science and animal behavior.”
Founded in 1998, Bay Ridge Prep is an independent, K-12 college preparatory school offering exceptional courses and intimate class sizes in a socially-mature and positive environment.