NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - Spirits were high and competition was intense among the 23 schools as an upstart team from Harrisonburg tried to unseat the long-reigning champions from Alexandria competing in the 2011 Virginia Regional High School Science Bowl at Jefferson Lab on Feb. 5.
The Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology team from Alexandria returned to defend its title as reigning champ. The team was undefeated during the morning round-robin matches and through Round 4 of the afternoon double-elimination playoffs before losing its first match of the day 58 to 90 to Harrisonburg High School, Harrisonburg. The loss forced the two teams to battle it out in a final faceoff match in which the Thomas Jefferson team bounced back and beat Harrisonburg, 96-12, to win the Virginia Regional High School Science Bowl title.
Harrisonburg High School finished second and Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School, Virginia Beach, finished third at the end of the intense, day-long academic competition. St. Christopher's School, Richmond, took fourth place.
For finishing first, the TJHSST team, coached by Sharon Webb, won an expense-paid trip to the U.S. Department of Energy Science Bowl Nationals to be held in Washington, D.C., April 28 to May 2. The team also took home a $750 check for its school, the regional banner that the team will carry to nationals, a team trophy and individual medals.
The Harrisonburg team, coached by Andrew Jackson and Suzanne Smith, received a $500 check for its school and a team trophy. The Bishop Sullivan team, coached by William Dunn and Carol Stapanowich, earned a $300 check for its school and a team trophy. The St. Christopher's team, coached by Vicki Hurt and Alina Cichocki, took home the fourth-place team trophy.
The National Science Bowl tournament - sponsored by the Department of Energy since 1991 - is an annual competition among teams of students. The teams face off in an intense question-and-answer format where contestants are quizzed on their knowledge in all science disciplines, including earth and space science, biology, chemistry, general science, mathematics and physics. A new category was added this year: energy. The day is broken into two sessions: morning round-robin matches, followed by double-elimination matches in the afternoon. A match is two eight-minute halves with a two-minute break.
Teams that didn't advance to the afternoon session were invited to compete in a problem-solving challenge dubbed the Stay All Day Contest. Teams were presented with three very different activities where they had to analyze and solve problems. The team with the best combined results for the activities was Warwick High School from Newport News and coached by Justin Giroux. Team members won individual prizes and they received a check for $300 for their school.
"The Science Bowl program champions an interest in science, technology, engineering and math among our nation's youth," Tyler said. "It encourages students to further their education and to pursue careers that will use this knowledge."
The efforts of more than 60 volunteers were needed to carry out the day-long event. Most of the volunteers were Jefferson Lab staff members who performed as competition moderators, rules judges, timekeepers and scorekeepers during matches.