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US Department of Energy National Science Bowl

Back to EurekAlert! A Service of the American Association for the Advancement of Science


Ames Lab regional teams win an unprecedented 3 awards at National Science Bowl

WASHINGTON, DC Home Schools of Eastern Iowa took home top honors in two categories and Ames High School won one award at the U.S. Department of Energy's National Science Bowl (NSB) held in Washington, DC. April 28-May 2.

The Home Schools team's first award was for its design challenge document, which was an integral part of the middle school portion of the NSB's Model Hydrogen Fuel-cell Car Competition. The team also won a second award, the Civility Award.

Director of the DOE Office of Science William Brinkman presented Home Schools of Eastern Iowa a trophy and $500 for its school's science department for winning the design challenge award. For winning the Civility Award, team members were presented Amazon Kindles, $100 gift certificates to Amazon.com and water-powered clocks courtesy of IBM. The accomplishments were recognized during the awards ceremony, which followed the Finals of the academic portion of the High School Science Bowl, held Monday, May 2, at the National Building Museum.

The Home School team's design challenge document was chosen over documents prepared by all 41 teams that participated in the Model Hydrogen Fuel-cell Car Challenge competition held on Sunday, May 1 at Chevy Chase High School. For the design challenge document, students were asked to explain how their race car's hydrogen fuel-cell worked, to present scale drawings of their car, tell how they overcame three obstacles related to building their car, how they formed their team, and the role of each of the team's five team members.

"The Home Schools of Eastern Iowa team's design document clearly articulated that the kids understood hydrogen technology," said Linda Lung coordinator of the Model Hydrogen Fuel-cell Car Challenge. "We were impressed with their teamwork and the way they divided up tasks to create a clear design document."

Members of the Home School team were excited to receive the award for their design challenge document. "We could tell during the interview that the judges really liked our design document," said team member Nick Leonard, who went on to comment on the scale of the effort the team put into its document. "The scale drawings took us at least six hours to prepare," commented Leonard. "And the car went through 18 different test runs in order to select the best set of 18 different sized wheels."

In addition to receiving the design challenge award for its car, the Home Schools team placed fifth in the Hydrogen Fuel-cell Car Challenge competition. The team also advanced to the "top-16" bracket of the middle school academic portion of the National Science Bowl.

The Civility Award, also won by Home Schools of Eastern Iowa, is a prestigious award given to only one middle school team and one high school team attending the National Science Bowl. Teams are nominated for the award by coordinators, coaches, volunteers and other team members for demonstrating good sportsmanship, composure in team competition and efforts to encourage other teams. "We heard great things about the Home Schools team throughout the competition," said Jan Tyler, coordinator of the National Science Bowl. "Through their sportsmanship, they demonstrated that our National Science Bowl is not all about academics, but it's also about how you carry yourself in society."

Ames High School received top honors in the high school division of the National Science Bowl by winning the Division Team Challenge (DTC) portion of the academic competition. The DTC is designed to test a team's ability to actually "do" science in a way that scientists and engineers do. For its DTC activity, the Ames team competed in a chemistry project that determined the molar heat of different substances. Teams had only 60 minutes to complete their task.

"Because of the time factor, we had to work efficiently to apply our scientific method," said Nirvan Tyagi, Ames High team member. "Although we didn't win the academic portion of the competition, that's just memory recall, said team member Peter Yin. "But the DTC was a practical application of science, which we're happy about."

For its win, the Ames team was presented a check for $500 for its school's science department. Team coach Joe Brekke congratulated his team for "working together well as a team, while enjoying learning and academics. I'm not surprised by this victory, and I'm proud of our team," said Brekke.

The Department of Energy's National Science Bowl celebrated its 21st year of competition in 2011. Sixty-nine high school and 41 middle school teams from around the nation won the chance to compete in the National Science Bowl by winning their respective states' Regional Science Bowl competitions. The Iowa Regional High School and Middle School Science Bowl competitions were sponsored by the DOE's Ames Laboratory in Ames, Iowa. Forty teams of high school students and 16 teams of middle school students competed in the Ames Laboratory Science Bowl competitions in January and February 2011, respectively.

"The Ames Laboratory is proud to host our Regional competition each year and send competitive student teams to the National competition," said Ames Laboratory Director Alex King. "This year's student teams exemplify all that hard work, team work and civility can accomplish. Our students and coaches should be very proud, as are we of them."

According to the DOE, the Science Bowl exemplifies how children who are engaged, encouraged, and equipped with proper resources can succeed academically. The goal is to invest in the next generation of scientists, engineers and educators so America can remain at the forefront of innovation and successfully compete in the 21st century global marketplace.

The National Science Bowl consists of both high school and middle school competitions. While the high school teams compete solely in an academic competition, the middle school students compete in both an academic competition and a hydrogen fuel-cell car competition. The academic competition tests students' knowledge in all areas of science in a fast-paced question-and-answer format similar to Jeopardy.


The National Science Bowl is the nation's largest science competition, attracting more than 10,000 high school and 4,000 middle school students from 1,800 schools in 48 states Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia.

The Ames Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science national laboratory operated by Iowa State University. The Ames Laboratory creates innovative materials, technologies and energy solutions. We use our expertise, unique capabilities and interdisciplinary collaborations to solve global problems.

Note to Editors: For photos and video of the Home Schools of Eastern Iowa and Ames High School teams, please go to: www.science.energy.gov/nsb/for-news-media.


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