Teens excel at Jefferson Lab's Science Bowl

Some of the top students from Virginia high schools were at the Jefferson Lab on Saturday for the statewide science competition.
The winner was a familiar one.

NEWPORT NEWS — Can a Science Bowl team be considered a dynasty? If so, then Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology is just that.

The Jefferson Lab has hosted the Virginia Regional Science Bowl for the past five years, and the school from Alexandria has won all five titles. The latest came on Saturday afternoon, when Jefferson defeated T.C. Williams in the final round, earning a spot in the National Science Bowl — another event Jefferson has won for the past four years.

Twenty high schools from all over Virginia sent four- and five-person teams in hopes of receiving an all-expense-paid trip to Washington to participate in the national event in April. No schools from the Peninsula or South Hampton Roads made it to the semifinal round.

Jefferson Lab science education manager Jan Tyler said the competition is important to teens and adults as well.

"This is a good opportunity for the smartest kids in the state to show off their talent," Tyler said. "They have the chance to meet people in the fields of science and engineering here at the Jefferson Lab. A lot of teens aren't going into the science fields, which could have a devastating effect in the future years."

The rules are simple: With eight-minute halves, teams of four are asked questions based on astronomy, physics, biology, math and other scientific categories. Points are scored for correct answers, and points can be subtracted for incorrect answers or failure to follow correct procedure.

The competition follows a double-elimination format.

The audience is asked to remain silent while the moderator reads the questions to the teams. Between rounds, students and others in attendance can pass the time with science-related activities and other interactive exhibits.

Thomas Jefferson senior Charlotte Seid, captain of her school's team, said the five straight championships took a lot of hard work and preparation.

"We practice at least twice a week," she said, "during our lunch breaks or during our activity periods."

Jefferson's opponents are starting to grow accustomed to that school's dominance in science competitions.

Brian Bills, a junior from the third-place Charlottesville team said: "We beat Thomas Jefferson in the first round and we were up 50-0 in the first half. We just kind of fell apart in the second half." Jefferson beat Charlottesville 70-40. Teams that are eliminated early in the competition can stay at Jefferson Lab and compete in other science events.

St. Christopher's School in Richmond won the Ferguson Stay All Day competition and received a $250 check from Ferguson Enterprises, a plumbing equipment and furnishings distribution company in Newport News.

The team from Thomas Jefferson will not only be receiving a trip to D.C., but a $600 check to their school, a regional winner's banner and trophy. Each team member received a Science Bowl winner medal.