An elite team of local students is headed to Washington to put their collective knowledge to the test at the U.S. Department of Energy Science Bowl.
The team of five from Lakeside High School will face off against the nation’s best young scientific minds in a buzzer racing quiz format to earn prize money for their school.Team members are Krishan Mistri, Saurabh Wakade, Yitao Tu, William Marcus and captain Kyle Xiao.
“The first goal we had was to beat Greenbrier (High School),” Saurabh said. “They put up a really good fight.”
In 2016, 116 teams from all over the nation and the U.S. territories, including Guam and Puerto Rico, traveled to the competition. Money is awarded to the top 16 teams.
“Last year we finished in the top 15,” said team coach and sponsor, Lakeside High teacher Charlotte Smith. “We tied in a round against the team that finished second.”
Smith called the DOE National Science Bowl a “massive undertaking.” She said Lakeside High had two teams in the regional competition that took both first and second place. The traveling team of five took the gold.
“The trip is paid for, each student gets about $2,000 to make the trip,” Smith said. “It would be nice to place again and bring home some more money. Just the first and second place in regional competition alone brought an additional $1,750 into the school.”
Four of the five competed last year.
“We are pretty excited and ready for this year,” William said. “We knew what to expect and we have prepared a lot more.”
During their practice, Smith administered a randomized set of questions. Topics included physics, math, chemistry, life science and physical science. Students raced to be the first to ring the buzzer and give an answer; the same as the national competition will be. If they answer correctly, they score points for the team. Incorrect answers open opportunities for rivals.
“Each of the students has their own strength,” Smith said. “But it’s not like we just went about the school picking students for the team; it’s a competitive process. We started with about 30 students and ended with the two teams.”
Each of the students comes from a family lineage of science, technology, engineering or mathematics. Their parents are business managers, surgeons, and engineers. The Augusta area is home to world renowned cancer research centers and nuclear or chemical engineering facilities. All of the students had some connection to those technical organizations, some of the largest employers in the area.
The trip isn’t all competition, though. Students are afforded the opportunity to visit the Smithsonian and the National Mall, as well as lectures from renowned scientists from across the nation.
The DOE not only awards the students’ school with money to continue STEM topic studies and programs, but has a special award for winning teams. In 2016, winning teams traveled to Alaska to visit Energy Department facilities there and past teams have been taken as far as France to see advanced technical facilities.
Reach Thomas Gardiner at (706)823-3339 or firstname.lastname@example.org.