Washington D.C. – U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced today that the regional competitions of the 22nd Annual U.S. Department of Energy National Science Bowl will kickoff tomorrow, Saturday, January 21. Thousands of middle and high school students from across the country will face off against one another on a range of science disciplines including biology, chemistry, earth science, physics and astronomy, as well as math, vying for trips to the National Finals in Washington, D.C., which are scheduled for April 26-30, 2012.

“To stay competitive in a rapidly advancing world, we must cultivate the next generation of students in the science, technology, engineering and math fields,” said Energy Secretary Chu. “Through the National Science Bowl, we’re challenging today’s students and fostering tomorrow’s leaders.”

Over the next twelve weeks, more than 9,000 high school students and 4,500 middle school students will compete in 69 high school and 45 middle school regional Science Bowl tournaments.  Students, in teams of four or five, compete in a fast-paced Jeopardy-style format where they solve technical problems and answer questions in all branches of science and math.  Most teams are coached by teachers from the students’ schools and spend several months preparing for the regional competitions.  Many states have one regional or statewide Science Bowl competition, while larger states, such as California and Texas, hold several regional competitions across their states. 

The regional tournaments, which host 15-50 teams, are sponsored by federal agencies, national laboratories, institutions of education, and non-profit organizations.  More information about these events is available on the National Science Bowl website:  http://www.science.energy.gov/nsb/.  Each of the 114 regional champions will be awarded an all-expense paid trip to the National Finals in Washington, D.C., which are scheduled for April 26-30, 2012.

Last year, California’s Mira Loma High School defeated Maryland’s Montgomery Blair High School in the Finals, and won an all-expense paid trip to the International Science School in Sydney, Australia. California’s Gale Ranch Middle School won the middle school national championship match.

The Department of Energy (DOE) created the National Science Bowl in 1991 to encourage students to excel in mathematics and science and to pursue careers in these fields. More than 200,000 students have participated in the National Science Bowl throughout its 21 year history, and it is the nation’s largest science competition. DOE’s Office of Science manages the competition. 

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