NEWPORT NEWS, Va. -- Twenty teams arrived at Jefferson Lab bright and early and ready to compete in the Virginia Regional High School Science Bowl on Feb. 7.
At the end of the day, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST), Alexandria, prevailed and will represent Virginia at the National Science Bowl® finals to be held in Washington, D.C., April 30-May 4.
The day kicked off with Jefferson Lab Director Hugh Montgomery welcoming the students, their coaches and attending family members in the CEBAF Center auditorium. After briefly explaining the lab’s mission of studying the atom’s nucleus, he discussed an adjunct mission: workforce development for teachers and scientists. He noted that throughout the ages, those with a knowledge of and skill in science have been the catalysts for moving society forward.
“So as we look to the future, you are…the creators of whatever the next 20-30 years will bring,” he enjoined.
The teams spent the morning in a series of fast-paced round robin matches, with the top two teams from each division moving on to the double-elimination semi-finals and finals. For one division, a three-way tie between Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School, Virginia Beach; Charlottesville High School, Charlottesville; and Gloucester High School, Gloucester, required a tie-breaker match before the afternoon matches.
The final match of the day pitted Langley High School, McLean, against TJHSST.
The TJHSST team won 126-22. Questions covered detailed topics ranging from physics and energy use to chemistry, geology, plant biology, cellular physiology and mathematics.
The TJHSST team, coached by Mary Ann Donohue took home a $750 check for its school, a team trophy, individual medals and the regional banner that the team will carry to nationals, in addition to earning a place in the Washington, D.C., National Finals.
As runner-up, the Langley the team, coached by Leah Puhlick, took home a $550 check for its school and a team trophy.
Finishing in third and fourth places were teams from Hampton Roads. The New Horizons Governor’s School for Science and Technology, Hampton, coached by Rhett Woo and Deidre Jeter, finished in third and Warwick High School, Newport News, coached by Laura Nelson-Rogers, ended the day in fourth. Third place won a $400 check for its school and a team trophy, and fourth place received a team trophy.
Several teams, eliminated from competition earlier in the day, stayed for the afternoon to participate in an event dubbed the Stay All Day Contest. Teams took part in three activities, each one presenting a different type of design or engineering challenge. Different challenges are presented each year.
Winning this event for the second straight year, and earning a $400 check for its school, was the team from Charlottesville High School, coached by Matt Shields.
Individual prizes were presented to the overall Stay All Day winners, as well as to the team members earning the highest scores in each activity.
At the awards presentations, Jan Tyler, Jefferson Lab's Science Education manager and Science Bowl coordinator, congratulated the teams – the nearly 100 students and their 27 coaches. She acknowledged and applauded their hard work and tenacity in preparing for the competition. She also thanked lab management for its support in hosting the event and to the 50 volunteers – lab staff, their family members, and friends of the Science Bowl program – who helped conduct the matches and run the event.
The Department of Energy created the National Science Bowl in 1991 to encourage students to excel in mathematics and science and to pursue careers in these fields. The National Science Bowl program is the nation's largest science competition. DOE's Office of Science manages the program and sponsors the NSB finals.
Over the next couple months, several thousand high school and middle school students will compete in 70 high school and 50 middle school regional Science Bowl tournaments. Students, in teams of four or five, compete in the fast-paced question-and answer-style format where they solve technical problems and answer questions in math and many branches of science. Most teams are coached by teachers from the students' schools and spend several months preparing for the regional competitions. Many states have one regional or statewide Science Bowl competition, while larger states, such as California and Texas, hold several regional competitions. The regional tournaments, which host 15-50 teams, are sponsored by federal agencies, national laboratories, institutions of education, and non-profit organizations. More than 20 regional competitions took place across the U.S. on Feb. 7.