Nine teams compete in Virginia Middle School Science Bowl competition at Jefferson Lab on March 11

Peasley Middle School

The Peasley Middle School Team from Gloucester, Va., is coached by Ray Yoh (far right). The team (from left to right) includes Tavis Sparrier, Sayer Fisher, William Wei-Xi Wang and Caleb Dyke. Photo by Steve Gagnon, Jefferson Lab.

The Virginia Regional Middle School Science Bowl (MSSB) drew a crowd of more than 200 to Jefferson Lab on Saturday, March 11. More than 120 family members showed up to watch nine teams compete in the Department-of-Energy-sponsored, academic tournament.

At the end of the day-long event, Peasley Middle School, Gloucester, Va., finished in first place and will advance to the Middle School Science Bowl Nationals set for June in Denver, Colo. Second place was won by Northampton Middle School, Machipongo, Va. James Blair Middle School, Williamsburg, Va., and Chancellor Middle School, Fredericksburg, Va., rounded out the top spots in third and fourth place, respectively.

"I was surprised at the end result," comments Jan Tyler, Science Education program manager. "The Northampton team won all of its matches until the first finals match (Double Elimination, Round 6) and then lost twice to Peasley, whom the Northampton team had beaten in Round 3 of the Double Elimination."

The Peasley team coach, Ray Yoh, might have a competitive edge, according to Tyler. Yoh has spent part of each of the last two summers at JLab, participating in the Teacher Academy in Physical Science (TAPS) program. He will return this summer for his final session in the three-year enrichment program designed to build teachers' skills in the physical sciences. The four-week summer program is for teachers of grades 5 through 8.

Northampton Middle School

The Northampton Middle School team, from Machipongo, Va., landed second place at the March 11 Science Bowl. The team includes (left to right) Jessica Lee, Kendall Combs, Kevin Edelmann and Mitra Sedghi. They are coached by Michael Bono (back, far right).

And what a difference a year can make. Last year the Northampton team didn't advance into the afternoon session. This academic year the same team (now eighth graders) has had a physical science class and finished in second place, according to Tyler.

"It was a great day," comments Tyler. "The middle schoolers are great to interact with. The students always have so much fun at this event. It's a thrill to see all the smiles. Even the teams that fell out of the competition after the morning session enjoyed competing and left with big smiles." Tyler's goal for the 2007 MSSB is to have more teams competing. "I'd really like to see 12 to 15 teams competing at the middle school event next year. Middle school is the ideal time to nurture students' interests and excitement in math and science."

The registration deadline for the 2007 MSSB will be in December 2006. Tyler encourages teachers to contact her (ph. 757-269-7164, email tyler@jlab.org) or visit JLab's Science Education webpage or the DOE MSSB webpage for more information.