Right now, teams of middle and high school students from across the country are prepping for a weekend of academic competition like no other – the National Science Bowl. Run by the Energy Department since 1991, the National Science Bowl features the winners of regional competitions from across the country.
During the competition, students compete to solve technical problems and answer questions in all branches of science and math in timed, buzzer-dictated Q&A sessions.
It’s a fast-paced, high-energy event, but students do have some downtime to relax, visit the sights on the National Mall, and catch up with their peers from other regions. I caught a team of juniors and seniors from Huntington High School in New York at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center where the teams are hosted hosted during the contest. Aside from their general interest in science and engineering (one is going on to study evolutionary biology in college, which sounds awesome), they were also quick to point out the soft-serve ice cream on tap in the center’s cafeteria.
Not a bad way to spend a weekend.
Before they hit the buzzers, teams also compete in hands-on activities. On Friday, high school students were busy solving engineering puzzles with everyday materials – like building bridges with dry spaghetti noodles – and conducting physics experiments on sandstone porosity and the speed of light. The middle school teams also design and build electric model cars for races that take place Sunday. There are also a variety of cutting-edge science seminars students can attend, ranging from clean energy to computational science.
You can follow the students as they progress toward the Finals (happening Monday at the National Building Museum), by: