McKeesport-area schools train for Science Bowl at CCAC South
Students from Norwin, East Allegheny and Serra Catholic high schools will contend with teams from at least 26 other school districts in a regional competition of the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science's National Science Bowl.
The event will take place on Saturday at Community College of Allegheny County's South Campus in West Mifflin. The Southwestern Pennsylvania Science Bowl is sponsored by the National Energy Technology Laboratory.
“The competition is not actually project-based, but rather a quiz-team sort of event where the kids are tested on their knowledge and application of material across science, mathematics and technology,” said Matt Anticole, Norwin physics instructor and science challenge squad sponsor.
Norwin is sending a varsity and junior varsity team. The varsity squad is led by junior Lindsey Robinson, with classmates Alexis Boytim and Sarah Kerr, and sophomore Sam Bartuska. Junior varsity is led by junior Sam Major, with classmates Joseph Pavlic and Matt Shipman, and sophomore Sam Birus.
This year's competition is a milestone for Norwin — its 10th.
“It is a nice opportunity for some of our brightest kids to square off against other students who will be their peers in college in a year or two,” Anticole said. “It is an eye-opening experience for a student who might be used to being one of the better students in the room to be suddenly sitting in an auditorium full of kids who are equally or even more capable ... For the district, it is always a pleasure to see how we stack up against other schools in the area.”
Norwin students met once a week after school to conduct practice competitions using last year's national-level questions.
“This is my second Science Bowl,” Matt Shipman said. “I expect us to be competitive, as we seemed to know almost all the answers when we practiced. Also, the two teams are full of some of the smartest kids in the school. Both teams are shooting for qualifying for states, and I bet one of them will at the very least come close, if they don't make it in.”
“This is my first Science Bowl,” Alexis said. “I expect the competition to be very tough, honestly. I do think it will be a lot of fun, though, getting to participate in the buzzer-like competition with my friends and teammates. Not to mention all the science, which is what I love, or I wouldn't be in the competition in the first place.”
East Allegheny is sending two teams trained by integrated and physical science teacher Alex Winschel. He has simulated the competition twice a week for the past few months.
Junior Maggie Edwards leads team one with sophomores Sean Loving, Stormy Green, Jared Schmeltz and Leah Pier. Junior Kenny Weaver leads team two with classmates Alex Grubbs, Kim Newman and seniors JR Shaw and Brendan Henshaw.
This is Kenny and East Allegheny's fourth time at the science bowl, and Maggie's third.
“I think it's great for our district to see the students taking a real interest in science, and try and get a better education by doing extra curriculars,” Kenny said. “It's nice working with your teammates and working with other teams that are going to be going from your school. It's nice to see how they progress academically.”
“Over the years we've gotten better and better ourselves for this year,” Maggie said. “It's a good experience. You see other kids who are involved and want to do something and share your similar interests in science.”
The winner of the regional competition will receive a fully paid trip to Washington to compete in the national science bowl in late April, and the winner of the national competition will win prizes for team members and their schools. The prizes will be named at a later date.
“It's our first year,” Serra biology teacher Cara DeSalvo said. “We've never been there. We're looking forward to seeing what it's like ... I think it's going to be pretty intense.”
Serra is sending two teams totaling eight students. They are juniors Clayton Lyons, Hannah Schorr, Stephen Karpinsky, and seniors Zachary Lally-Montgomery, Shannon Piplica, Natalie Gilbert, Wei Mon Lu and Kyanna Williams-Pate. Serra students were on winter break this week.
DeSalvo said her teams practiced a few times after school with fake competitions.
“I think they're enjoying themselves,” DeSalvo said. “Scholastically they're prepared. Getting used to the game format seems to be nerve-racking.”
East Allegheny is sending a team to the middle school competition next week.
More information on the competition can be found online at www.swpasciencebowl.com.
Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965, or firstname.lastname@example.org.