CSRA Team Wins this Year’s DOE “Science Bowl”

DOE Science Bowl teams from Greenbrier High School (foreground) and North Augusta High School make last minute preparations moments before the next round of competition.

Event Challenges Elite Students from Throughout South Carolina and the Augusta Area in Regional Finals

AIKEN, S.C. (March 5, 2019) – Many of our country’s future scientists, engineers and mathematicians recently put their knowledge to the test during this year’s U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Savannah River Regional Science Bowl® Competition, which attracted 24 teams from across South Carolina and the greater Augusta area.

This year's winning team from Lakeside High School, Evans, Ga., has earned an all-expense paid trip to the National Competition to be held in Washington, D.C., April 25-29. A part of the country’s largest science tournament, the national event also offers several days of hands-on science activities, seminars and sightseeing.

Nation Ford High School, Fort Mill, S.C., came in second, while third place was achieved by the South Carolina Governor's School, Greenville, S.C.

During the day-long event, tension and excitement filled the rooms within the University of South Carolina Aiken facility where competing teams listened carefully to questions, hands ready to buzz-in, knowing every correct answer is one step closer to representing their school and region at the national level.

The format used is similar to the television show “Jeopardy,” where teams face-off during a timed period of fast-paced question-and-answers. Questions cover a wide range of academic disciplines including biology, chemistry, earth science, physics, energy and math.

Science Bowl teams consist of four students, an alternate and a teacher who serves as an advisor and coach. This year’s regional contest involved 119 students from 17 high schools and is the only academic competition of its kind that tests students’ knowledge in all areas of science and is sponsored by a Federal agency.

According to Kim Mitchell, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions Education Outreach, this competition tests the students’ ability to perform under pressure. “The teams arrive fully prepared after extensive practice. I’m always impressed with how much information they can retain and how calm they remain,” she said.

Mitchell also noted that teams frequently depend on the academic strength of each member during this demanding academic contest. “One member may be their math specialist, while another is their go to person for questions related to chemistry. They are all impressive.”

The Savannah River Site (SRS) is one of only four DOE sites to have participated each year at the regional level since the start of the Science Bowl competition.

Charlton Hill, a senior at Aiken High School, stated the event quickly shows you just how little knowledge each of us possesses. "It's interesting to see if you're a small fish in a big pond or a big fish in a small pond. It's humbling," he said. "But, it's also a learning experience that I hope to take a lot away from. I've found that there are a lot of people smarter than me."

Hill also stated that he was surprised at how intensely competitive the event was for his team. "That other team is looking to beat you. I knew that would happen, but not to this degree."

Nick Lowe, a Greenbrier sophomore added, "Some of the questions we were given are really difficult, advanced questions you're never going to see in high school. When you get exposed to these questions earlier during your time at high school, it makes you want to learn more. It'll keep driving you towards your career aspirations."

DOE created the National Science Bowl (NSB) in 1991 to encourage students to excel in mathematics and science and to pursue careers in these fields.  Approximately 290,000 students have participated in the NSB throughout its 28-year history.

Over the next several months, more than 9,000 high school students and 4,500 middle school students will compete in 65 high school and 50 middle school regional Science Bowl tournaments. The U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science manages the National Science Bowl and sponsors the NSB finals competition.

Volunteers from the community and multiple contractors at SRS work as scorekeepers, timers, judges and many other important functions during the regional tournament each year. “We heavily depend on our volunteers and greatly appreciate their help,” said Mitchell. “It’s quite a team effort.”

The Savannah River Site provides a variety of science and literacy outreach programs to reach tens of thousands of students each year.

The primary goals of these outreach programs are to enhance interest in science, mathematics, engineering and technology and to support improvements in education in the Central Savannah River Area by using the unique resources available at SRS.

Participating schools:

Aiken High Aiken South Carolina
John S. Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School Augusta Georgia
D. W. Daniel High School Central South Carolina
Evans Christian Academy Evans Georgia
Evans High School Grovetown Georgia
Governor's School for Science and Mathematics Hartsville South Carolina
Greenbrier High School Evans Georgia
Grovetown High School Grovetown Georgia
Irmo High School Irmo South Carolina
Lakeside High School Evans Georgia
Lowcountry Preparatory School Pawleys Island South Carolina
Nation Ford High School Fort Mill South Carolina
North Augusta High School North Augusta South Carolina
Palmetto High School Williamston South Carolina
Southside High School Greenville South Carolina
Westminster Schools of Augusta Augusta Georgia

Note:  Each school often enters multiple teams.