"Which of the following organelles would be most abundant in cells that are producing large amounts of ATP through oxidative metabolism?" If you were a middle school student participating in the National Science Bowl, then you'd know the answer is probably... mitochondria? On Sounds Good, Kate Lochte speaks with Jan Tyler, National Science Bowl Coordinator of the Department of Energy's Office of Science to learn more about the West Kentucky Regional Science Bowl, for which high school teams have until February 11 to register - and there are a few openings for middle school teams, whose competition is February 6.
Jan Tyler says if you had a hard time following the sample question (see above) then you could imagine what the high school questions are like. But that's part of the fun of being a spectator in the National Science Bowl, that one would be amazed at the level of knowledge of which the middle and high school kids compete for the chance to move to nationals and ultimately the grand prize.
The competition covers all types of subjects: biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, earth science, space and energy. Students work with teachers and study outside of the normal curriculum. Winning teams in the regionals get an all-expense paid trip to Washington DC to compete in the nationals in May. There are 115 regional competitions, about 50 middle schools and 65 high schools. In the national competition, students are surrounded by 500 others who love science. During the nationals, they'll get to visit the museums in the National Mall and meet with speakers who actually practice the things they learn about in preparation for the competition. NSF alumni are invited to register and serve as speakers and academic competition judges.
Middle school students also work on model cars. Teams build and race electric cars powered by lithium ion batteries. They learn about gear ratios and how to make their car the fastest on the 30 meter track. Tyler says there is a lot of engineering involved in this process of making a car. The teachers then take their students' car back to the classroom and use it as an example of an electric car for the next class.
Tyler says the regional competition may accept an extra middle school or two. There are currently 18 teams from 13 middle schools and 15 teams from 9 high schools in the West Kentucky Regional competition.
Last year's regional winners were Calloway County High School and Lone Oak Middle School.