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Students buzz in for chemistry

High school teams compete in STEM Week Science Bowl at NOBCChE meeting

by Katharine Gammon, special to C&EN
November 4, 2018 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 96, Issue 44


Photo of the Science Bowl team from Rockdale Magnet School for Science & Technology.
Credit: Katharine Gammon
The Science Bowl champs from Rockdale Magnet School for Science & Technology hold their trophy with their adviser and NOBCChE and ACS leaders.

The Science Bowl team from Rockdale Magnet School for Science & Technology sat at the table, staring down their competition—the Arabia Mountain High School Rams and the Flint Southwestern Classical Academy Jaguars.

The first question in the final round of NOBCChE’s Science Bowl was a toss-up—any team could buzz in to answer—and the category was “blacks in science.” The announcer boomed: “I studied botany at Iowa State Agricultural College and was the first—”

A Jaguars player hit the buzzer. “George Washington Carver,” he answered.

“That is correct,” the announcer confirmed.

The Science Bowl is one of the most popular events at NOBCChE, which has a program of STEM Week activities for high school students. Teams of high school students compete in trivia, with questions on topics including math, physics, and the history of science. Correct answers are tallied and assessed by two judges from the American Chemical Society, which also publishes C&EN and sponsors the Science Bowl.

“We felt excited and nervous,” said Cionne Gates, a member of the Rockdale Magnet team who won the student poster contest at the conference. “The math is always hard to do in 20 seconds—it’s hard to process the question.”

“I always look forward to the Science Bowl because I get to meet people from all over the U.S.,” explained Carly Kimpling, another Rockdale student.

“At first, I was not confident because I thought I wasn’t good at science, but it’s a lot of information from your previous grades. And we study a ton,” said Alayna Goff, a senior on the Flint Southwestern Classical Academy team. She also learned about chemistry and engineering careers at the meeting.

After a challenging 20-minute round, the contestants from the three schools stood up and hugged each other. They were visibly relieved that their challenging competition had come to a close. The next day, they would learn the final results—the Rockdale team had answered their way to victory.

“At the end of the day, we come out knowing more even if we get the answers wrong,” Gates said and added that she was also able to network at the meeting and learn about opportunities at universities and graduate schools. “It’s all about exposure to educational opportunities and job opportunities and learning how to market yourself in science.”


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