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ROCKVILLE – Teams from 25 Maryland high schools came to the Rockville campus of Montgomery College on Jan. 19 to compete for the opportunity to represent the state in the 29th National Science Bowl.
The competition is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Department of Science, with the goal of inspiring and providing academic and career opportunities for students interested in science.
At the competition, teams faced off in a quiz bowl-style round-robin tournament, with moderators asking questions in physics, earth science, chemistry and other fields. Teams from three Montgomery County high schools — Montgomery Blair, Richard Montgomery, and Rockville – made it to the final four, with Blair advancing to the final round. Blair narrowly lost the competition to the team representing Centennial High School in Ellicott City.
“This is a tradition to keep the Science Bowl Club running,” said Thomas Luo, a senior at Centennial High. “It’s a small club, and everybody knows each other. We really like the collaborative aspect of the event.”
Luo plans to study computer science and mathematics in college.
“These kids are the greatest,” said Robert Astri, an AP Chemistry teacher at Centennial who serves as coach for the science bowl team. “They have a passion for it. You can’t learn what they learn sitting in a classroom. They’re constantly learning on the own; they take college-level classes, and they’re multi-talented. They play music and do all sorts of other things in addition to this. It’s amazing.”
“The science bowl gives motivation for young kids to learn on our own,” said Elliot Kenzel, a Montgomery Blair alumnus who came to the bowl on Saturday to cheer on his team. Kenzel participated in the science bowl during his time at Blair, including during last year’s competition, when the school also placed second.
“It’s an opportunity to learn all you can learn about a particular branch of science, and the competition is really fun,” said Kenzel, who is now a freshman at the University of Maryland studying physics.
“I like to see the young students who are really very focused on science and education,” said Michael Mehalick, the STEM internship coordinator at Montgomery College who has served as the regional coordinator for the science bowl since he was hired by the school in 2008. “They’re very dedicated; these are students who have fun reading textbooks. It’s great to see that these are not only kids who are really interested in science and math, but also to see the strategy that goes into the competition.”