Portsmouth/Paducah Project Office

Calloway, Gatton Succeed at DOE National Science Bowl

May 8, 2013

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The Calloway County Middle School team poses in front of the White House. Students also visited the Smithsonian Institution and the  National Archives. From left are Marshall Thompson, Joza Mikulcik, Michael Okuda, Claire Umstead, and Chauncy Roberts.

The Calloway County Middle School team poses in front of the White House. Students also visited the Smithsonian Institution and the National Archives. From left are Marshall Thompson, Joza Mikulcik, Michael Okuda, Claire Umstead, and Chauncy Roberts.

From left, John Biechele-Speziale, Sam Saarinen, and Sibi Rajendran blow on a windmill that the Gatton Academy team designed to lift a bucket (cup).

From left, John Biechele-Speziale, Sam Saarinen, and Sibi Rajendran blow on a windmill that the Gatton Academy team designed to lift a bucket (cup).

Calloway County Middle School of Murray finished 7th in engineering design for its lithium ion battery-powered car at the Department of Energy’s 2103 National Science Bowl, held April 25-29 in Washington, D.C. Bowling Green-based Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science won its division team challengeagainst nine other high schools.

The two schools competed at the nationals after winning their respective West Kentucky Regional Science Bowl competitions at West Kentucky Community & Technical College in Paducah in February. Calloway Middle School advanced to the National Science Bowl for the second straight year. 

Calloway’s hard work on the car included writing essays; compiling daily work logs, design schematics, and a tools and components list; and providing an overall perspective of what the team learned during the process, coach Scott Pile said.

“We were hoping to get the top six like last year so we could be on the stage, but we gave it our best effort,” Pile said. “Our car performed very well against the competition as it traveled the track in only 10 seconds.”

With more than 69 high school and 46 middle school teams, the DOE National Science Bowl is the largest and most prestigious science competition of its type. Teams participate in fast-paced, Jeopardy-style academic matches answering science, energy, and math questions.

Pile said his students competed very well in quick recall, beating teams from New York and Oklahoma. Calloway lost to the division winner on the last question of the match.

“It was a wonderful trip for the kids as they got to compete against the brightest young minds in the nation,” Pile said. “I love when our students realize they can compete with anyone.” 

Gatton received a $500 check for winning the division team challenge, testing a team’s ability to do a science project the same way science and engineers would. Gatton estimated the number of threads in a bed sheet, using lasers and with only minimum information necessary to completethe task, coach Chad Phillips said.

“The division team challenge also stressed the importance of collaborative research, as the students work with their teammates to quickly solve the challenge,” Phillips said. “The Gatton Academy benefitted from the team members’ unique academic backgrounds.”

Gatton team members enjoyed meeting and competing against students from across the country, he said. “All of the students walked away from the competition with a stronger passion for science.”