Thomas Jefferson High School Takes 2017 Virginia Science Bowl

  • Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (left) and Langley High School (right)

Pictured here, the teams from Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (left) and Langley High School (right) relax briefly before starting the final round of the Virginia Regional High School Science Bowl. The Thomas Jefferson team finished in first place and will represent Virginia in the National Science Bowl® finals.

Langley, Princess Anne and J.E.B. Stuart High Schools Place at Annual Competition

NEWPORT NEWS, VA -- Sixteen teams arrived at Jefferson Lab bright and early and ready to compete in the Virginia Regional High School Science Bowl on Feb. 4. After an intense day of competition, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Alexandria, took home top team honors.

Welcoming the students, attending family members and team coaches, Deputy Director of Science, Robert McKeown, briefly explained the research conducted at Jefferson Lab, including the 12 GeV Upgrade to the Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility and what this upgrade project means to the 1,500-plus community of U.S. and international researchers who use CEBAF to carry out cutting-edge nuclear physics experiments.

McKeown continued by acknowledging the extraordinary talent of the teams gathered to compete in the Science Bowl. “We realize you are the future. You have the potential to change the world,” he remarked. “You are tomorrow’s scientists, engineers and inventors. You will be the people making the next discovery or coming up with the next big idea, or figuring out how to do something that has never been done before. Today is a celebration of that potential.” McKeown encouraged the students to pursue careers where they could make a difference and continue to grow.

The teams spent the morning in a series of fast-paced round robin matches, with the top two teams from each of the four divisions moving on to the double-elimination tournament in the afternoon. Questions covered detailed topics ranging from physics and energy to chemistry, biology, astronomy, Earth science and mathematics.

The last two matches of the day pitted Langley High School, McLean, against Thomas Jefferson High School. Langley was undefeated in the afternoon tournament until the first championship match, when it bowed to Thomas Jefferson, 72-112.

With each team incurring one loss during double-elimination, a final face-off between the two teams was necessary to determine the winner of the tournament. The score was close at the half of the final match, 40-30, with Thomas Jefferson in the lead. Thomas Jefferson continued to pull ahead and by the final buzzer led with a score of 136-42.

The Thomas Jefferson team, coached by Laura McConnaughey, took home a $750 check for its school, a team trophy, individual medals and the regional banner that the team will carry when they compete in the National Science Bowl® (NSB) finals in Washington, D.C., April 27 – May 1.

Finishing in second place, the Langley team, coached by Leah Puhlick, took home a $500 check for its school and a team trophy.

Ending the day, respectively, in third and fourth were the teams from Princess Anne High School, Virginia Beach, and J.E.B. Stuart High School, Falls Church.  The Princess Anne team, coached by Jordan Turner, took home a $300 check for its school and a team trophy. The Stuart High School team, coached by Haile Russom, took home a team trophy.

Several teams, eliminated from competition after the round robin matches, stayed to participate in the Stay All Day Contest. These teams took part in three activities, each one presenting a different type of design or engineering challenge. Winning this event, and earning a $300 check for its school, was the team from Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School, Virginia Beach, coached by William Dunn and Carol Stapanowich. 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 presentation, Christine Wheeler, Jefferson Lab's Science Education acting supervisor, congratulated the students and their coaches. She acknowledged their hard work and tenacity in preparing for the competition, and for the support provided by parents. She thanked Jefferson Lab management for its support in hosting the event and the more than three dozen 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® is one of the nation's largest science competitions. DOE's Office of Science manages the program and sponsors the NSB finals. Over the next two months, several thousand students will compete in high school and middle school regional Science Bowl tournaments.

Jefferson Lab will host the Virginia Regional Middle School Science Bowl on March 4.


Contact: Deb Magaldi, Jefferson Lab Communications Office, 757-269-5102,


Jefferson Science Associates, LLC, manages and operates the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, or Jefferson Lab, for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science. JSA is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Southeastern Universities Research Association, Inc. (SURA).

DOE’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit