PIKETON, Ohio — Wheelersburg High School underclassmen Jacob Lewis, Quin Whitley, Aaron Bundy and Gus Shoemaker called themselves the school’s “B Team” during the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) South Central Ohio Regional Science Bowl.
But the four students brought their “A Game” to the academic competition and rifled through a field of 32 teams from 21 southern Ohio high schools with eight straight victories to capture the fifth annual regional championship March 10 at Shawnee State University in Portsmouth.
With the win, the Wheelersburg team and coach Paul Boll earned an all-expense-paid trip to the National Science Bowl, scheduled for April 27 through May 1 in Washington, D.C., to compete against 69 other regional winners from across the United States.
After a 3-0 start in morning pool play, the Wheelersburg team rolled off victories against two Piketon teams and then a double-overtime victory over Unioto to reach the Final Four. The Pirates then defeated Lucasville Valley in the semifinals before a 30-22 win over Zane Trace to win the school’s first regional title.
“It was probably around the quarterfinals of the tournament, we were looking around saying, ‘Is this actually happening?’” said Lewis, the team captain. “We had some very close matches and now that we’ve won it’s very exciting and we’re looking forward to competing against some of the greatest scientific students in the United States.”
Coach Boll said Wheelersburg’s poor showing in the 2016 event provided valuable information that led to this year’s victory.
“We learned last year that you need to have a more diverse team in order to compete at this event. We basically went from worst to first and that’s because we put kids together who specialize in different areas,” Boll said. “I give a lot of credit to the science and math teachers at Wheelersburg High School for this victory. Now, I just want to give some young people an experience that many will never have. I hope they see some things there that will make them consider careers in science.”
The winning students each received $100 bonds and Wheelersburg High School’s science department received $1,000. Zane Trace, the runner up, received $600 for its science department and team members Aiden Place, Hunter Brower, Zach Joseph, Tyler Carpenter and Tanner Kuntz each received $50 bonds.
Along with Shawnee State University, DOE partnered on the event with the Portsmouth Site Specific Advisory Board, Portsmouth site contractors (Fluor-BWXT Portsmouth, Restoration Services, Inc., Wastren Advantage, Inc., Portsmouth Mission Alliance, Mid-America Conversion Services, InSolves, EHI Consultants), the Southern Ohio Diversification Initiative, and The Ohio Academy of Science.
Besides Wheelersburg, participating high schools included Chillicothe, Eastern Pike, Green, Huntington, Jackson, Minford, Northwest, Notre Dame, Pike Christian Academy, Pike County Career Technology Center, Piketon, Portsmouth, Portsmouth West, Sciotoville East, South Webster, Unioto, Valley, Waverly, Western Pike and Zane Trace.
Greg Simonton, DOE regional coordinator, said the event enjoys support from the Department, its partners and many people whose hard work makes the event happen.
“We want to thank our sponsors and partners who play a vital role in the execution of this regional, and the dozens of volunteers who work hard to put on a quality event,” Simonton said. “This regional showcases some of southern Ohio’s brightest students and we are happy to play a role in promoting science and the affiliated careers to the young people of southern Ohio. We also want to wish Wheelersburg good luck at the national event.”
Science Bowl teams are comprised of four students, one alternate, and a teacher who serves as advisor and coach. The teams are quizzed in a fast-paced competition involving biology, chemistry, Earth and space science, physics, energy, and mathematics.
The Department of Energy 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 a quarter-million students have participated and it is one of the nation’s largest science competitions.
DOE’s Office of Science manages the NSB Finals competition. More information is available on the NSB website: http://www.science.energy.gov/wdts/nsb/.