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(Boston) — Scientists and engineers of the future will compete for a spot in a prestigious national science competition when, for the second year in a row, Boston University hosts the Massachusetts regional qualifications for the National Science Bowl at the Boston University Photonics Center, 8 St. Mary’s Street, on Saturday, March 3 at 8:30 a.m.
Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, the Science Bowl is a prominent educational event where teams of high school students are quizzed on their knowledge of all branches of science and math. Teams from 28 high schools from across the state will vie for an invitation to the National Science Bowl finals in Washington, D.C. April 26 -30.
Aimed at encouraging involvement in science and math, the Science Bowl program provides students who excel in these areas with a challenging yet fun forum to receive recognition for their talent. Teams of four participate in six “round robin” games and are asked questions about chemistry, biology, physics, astronomy, earth science, general science, and math. After the scores from the round robin are tallied, the top teams face off in single elimination rounds, until one emerges as the winner. The winners from each of the 67 regional tournaments, like the one at BU, qualify for a trip to the National Finals where they will compete for the title of National Science Bowl champions and prizes, such as a monetary award for their school and scientific research trips.
Organized by Boston University’s Learning Resource Network (LERNet), the regional Science Bowl brings together numerous departments from around campus to ensure the event’s success. Cynthia Brossman, director of LERNet, and Katinka Csigi, grants manager in BU’s Chemistry department, co-organizers, are also working with two student coordinators to orchestrate the tournament.
“I have run dozens of events for high school students over the past 15 years, but none as prestigious, or as competitive as this one,” said Brossman.
BU faculty, staff, and students have volunteered and will be on hand the day of to handle everything from checking in teams to serving as judges, moderators, timekeepers, and scorekeepers.
“The response has been overwhelming this year, with people from more departments signing-up to help with the Science Bowl,” said Ashmita Randhawa, a College of Engineering (ENG) junior and one of the two student coordinators, along with College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) junior Ishan Patel.
Patel added that, based on experience gained from running the event last year, they have developed a more comprehensive volunteer training program to ensure the teams have the best experience possible at the competition.
“It takes a while to learn the ropes because the national Science Bowl program has a long history and a very structured way of organizing things, so we’re extremely grateful for everyone who has donated their time in order to make it a success,” said Csigi.
Like the 2006 BU Science Bowl, this year’s local sponsor is Merck Research Laboratories-Boston and many Merck employees will also serve as volunteers at the competition.
“My Merck colleagues and I are excited to support the Boston University Science Bowl once again because it’s a wonderful event that encourages the study of science,” said Mark T. Goulet, Ph.D., executive director of Medicinal Chemistry, Merck Research Laboratories-Boston. “As a student I participated in a similar competition and it gave me and my friends the opportunity to participate in a fun, team contest that challenged our academic interests.”
High schools competing in the Massachusetts regional round at BU include: Arlington High School, Bartlett Jr./Sr. High School (Webster, MA), Bedford High School, Boston Latin School, Boston University Academy, Brockton High School, Brookline High School, Buckingham Browne & Nichols School (Cambridge, MA), Cambridge Rindge & Latin School, Chelmsford High School, Commonwealth School (Boston, MA), Grafton Memorial Sr. High School, Lexington High School, Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School, Natick High School, Newton Country Day School, Newton North High School, Newton South High School, Noble and Greenough School (Dedham, MA), North Andover High, Phillips Academy (Andover, MA), Presentation of Mary Academy (Methuen, MA), Prospect Hill Academy Charter School (Cambridge, MA), Roxbury Latin School (W. Roxbury, MA), Tantasqua Regional Sr. High School (Fiskdale, MA), Westborough High School, Westford Academy, and Weston High School.
“We’re thrilled with the increase in the number of high schools competing this year, particularly among schools not in the immediate Boston-area,” said Patel. “It shows that our outreach has made more schools aware of the event and how it promotes science and math education.”
Founded in 1839, Boston University is an internationally recognized institution of higher education and research. With more than 30,000 students, it is the fourth largest independent university in the United States. BU contains 17 colleges and schools along with a number of multi-disciplinary centers and institutes which are central to the school’s research and teaching mission.