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2007 Science Bowl: Wit vs. Weather

Foul weather and a delayed start failed to dampen the spirits of the 27 teams participating in the 2007 Northeast Regional Science Bowl (NRSB) for high school students, which took place March 17th at the UConn Storrs campus. While heavy snow blanketed the New England landscape, shades of spring green – in honor of St. Patrick’s Day – adorned the clothing of many of the team members and 80 volunteers gathered to match wits.

As in 2006, the School of Engineering organized, sponsored and hosted the Bowl, which included both a Jeopardy!-style quiz bowl and a model fuel cell car race. By day’s end, the 2006 champion team from nearby E.O. Smith High School once again claimed the winner’s laurels and the honor of representing the region in the National Science Bowl tournament, which will take place in Washington, DC from April 26-30. Greenwich High School captured top honors in the fuel cell race.

Kevin McLaughlin, director of the Engineering Diversity Program at UConn and co-organizer of the event, judged the day a resounding success. “These young competitors have an impressive mastery of scientific and mathematical facts at their mental fingertips. The skills that allow students to excel in intellectual competitions such as the Science Bowl are a superb prelude to engineering,” said Mr. McLaughlin. Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Education Marty Wood, who co-organized the event, agreed, adding, “Sponsoring competitive outreach initiatives like the Northeast Regional Science Bowl and the early fall 2007 Regional Chess Tournament are marvelous venues for students to visit and learn about professions in engineering, mathematics and science.”

Members of the championship E.O. Smith team were Atif Rakin, Kyle Shin, Kedron Silsbee, Maria Kern and Priyanka Nakka.

The second and third-place winners in the academic competition were Daniel Schreff, Divya Singhal, Lisa Carmona, John Angland and Alicia Zimmel of Greenwich High School; and Vincent Eckstein, Arthur Erb, Joshua Enxing, Jennifer Hauser and Paul Wiele of Nashua North High School in New Hampshire. The top team in the fuel cell race comprised Jose Cabanero and John Chapman of Greenwich High School. The second and third-place fuel cell teams hailed from Crosby High School (Aulona Hoxha, Navneet Kaur and Candace Stewart), and Bethel High School (Tom Ford and Daniel Lee).

The NRSB drew teams from across Connecticut as well as New York, Rhode Island and New Hampshire. Throughout the morning, teams competed in round-robin tournaments of two eight-minute halves, with the top performers meeting in championship rounds mid-afternoon. The questions – all presented in a multiple choice or short answer format – spanned astronomy, earth science, physical science, life science, math and general science. Teams were given just seconds to slap a buzzer and answer each question.

To compete in the model fuel cell race, teams designed and built their entries for optimal power and speed. The races were run on a flat surface, with some entries failing to complete the course while others sped smoothly to the end. The variety of designs and features among entries demonstrated the level of creativity and thought that went into each car.

The top three teams in the academic and fuel cell competitions received award trophies and renewable scholarship certificates to UConn’s School of Engineering. The scholarships ranged from $2,000/student/year to $250/student/year. In addition, all participants received a commemorative Science Bowl T-shirt.

Besides the School of Engineering, sponsors included the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and Gerber Scientific; and Subway and Dunkin’ Donuts, which donated food and beverages to the event.