Arizona Science Bowl

by Don Rodriguez

Winning team from BASIS Chandler

Quickly: From the LEAST to the MOST, what are the three most abundant elements in a G-type star?

If your answer was hydrogen, helium and carbon, move to the head of the class.

That’s an example of one of the easier questions you might have faced as a contestant in the High School Division of the Arizona Science Bowl, the regional event of the National Science Bowl presented recently by the Arizona Technology Council Foundation and Solugenix Corporation.

Coming in first was the team from BASIS Chandler, which will advance to the National Science Bowl finals April 26-30 in Washington, D.C. “I am proud to oversee a department that provides such a unique and empowering opportunity for our nation’s students, and I am honored to congratulate BASIS Chandler in advancing to the National Finals, where they will continue to showcase their talents as the top minds in math and science.” says U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, whose department sponsors the national competition.

The National Science Bowl brings together thousands of middle and high school students from across the country to compete in a fast-paced, question-and-answer format to solve technical problems and answer questions on a range of science disciplines. To reach this level, more than 9,000 high school students and 4,500 middle school students were expected to compete in 65 high school and 50 middle school regional Science Bowl tournaments.

In the Arizona high school competition, second place went to BASIS Mesa, and Hamilton High School in Chandler finished third. They were among 32 teams from throughout the state that competed, says Crystal Kolosick, digital marketing specialist at Solugenix, who serves as regional coordinator for the Arizona Science Bowl. The high school question categories were biology, chemistry, earth and space science, energy, mathematics, and physics.

The middle school tournament was scheduled to be held March 10 (which is after the print deadline for this April issue) with 26 teams. “We actually have three teams that are going to be coming from Nevada to participate in our event because they don’t have an event in Nevada,” says Kolosick. The middle school question categories are to be life science, physical science, earth and space science, energy, mathematics, and general science.

The top 16 high school teams and the top 16 middle school teams in the national finals will win $1,000 for their schools’ science departments. More than 275,000 students have participated in the National Science Bowl in its 27-year history.

If you think this all means a lot of questions need to be developed and asked, you are right. Just imagine the size of the books that need to be compiled for judges to use in the competitions. At least, that’s what has been happening in Arizona — until this year. Kolosick says the high school contest marked the debut of converting the files to PDFs and uploading them to tablets used by the eight moderators and eight rules judges.

“Rather than using up all this paper we decided to go paperless, reduce our footprint a bit and also save ourselves lots of headaches” in assembling question books, she says. “Moderators were able to get the questions ahead of time in a PDF format and rehearse, and we benefited from it because we were able to save a lot of time and money by making it all digital.”

In addition, organizers in Arizona have been working on an app to make the scorekeeping and timekeeping functions more integrated and completely digital, Kolosick says. At the end of each round, the app would transmit the scores so those not in the same room as the competitors see the scores immediately. The first real-time trial for the app is planned for one of the competition rooms of the March middle school tournament. “It’s kind of a very streamlined way of doing it, so we’re kind of excited about that,” she says.

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