PORTSMOUTH, Ohio – Wheelersburg High School recently captured the 7th Annual South Central Ohio Regional Science Bowl title at Shawnee State University, marking the third consecutive year the Pirates have achieved the feat.
The academic team comprised of senior Aaron Bundy, junior captain Rohit Kataria, junior Meena Kirkendall and junior Austin Meyers were undefeated in pool play and marched through five opponents in a single-elimination tournament to win and earn a return trip to the National Science Bowl in Washington, D.C., in April.
“When you come into this event, with 32 teams, you just do your best because every year is a new experience,” said Wheelersburg coach Paul Boll, adding that his school’s previous National Science Bowl experience has been helpful. “I have to give the teachers at Wheelersburg High School a lot of credit because they set high expectations for the kids. That gives us a good group that we can draw from.”
Wheelersburg won all three of its morning matches, setting a South Central Ohio Regional record with 84 points against Notre Dame. The Pirates then went a step further and broke their own record by scoring 86 points in the opening round of the single-elimination tournament against Waverly.
Wheelersburg wasn’t the only record setter in the event, however. Zane Trace High School became the first school in event history to place two teams in the event’s Final Four. (Schools are permitted two teams as availability allows. The 32 total teams came from 19 schools.) Zane Trace’s two teams were undefeated all day until the tournament semifinals. They faced off in one semifinal and Wheelersburg defeated Portsmouth Clay in the other. Wheelersburg then defeated Zane Trace 46-12 in the championship match.
“I love Science Bowl because for people who think science is geeky or whatever, this allows them to see science as cool and it brings it alive for them,” said Kataria, whose team will compete against 64 other regional champions at the National Science Bowl April 25-29 in the nation’s capital. “This is just such an amazing experience. Now I’m excited to see how we stack up in the national event and we’re looking forward to a fun experience.”
Greg Simonton, the event’s coordinator for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), said the Science Bowl is a showcase of young people and provides a different perspective of the region’s youth. “There needs to be more attention and focus on the good things that young people are doing and a good place for that is STEM-related education,” said Simonton. “Not a single person could look at the talent and intelligence of the young people in this event and not think that southern Ohio is full of brilliant people. It is an uplifting event and an indicator that our children are capable of being competitive in STEM-related fields.”
Participating schools included Chillicothe, Eastern Pike, Green, Huntington Ross, Lucasville Valley, Minford, Northwest, Notre Dame, Pike County Career Technology Center, Piketon, Portsmouth Clay, Portsmouth West, Sciotoville East, South Webster, Unioto, Waverly, Western Pike, Wheelersburg and Zane Trace.
The DOE National Science Bowl is a nationwide academic competition that tests students’ knowledge in all areas of science and mathematics. Teams are tested on a range of science disciplines including biology, chemistry, Earth science, physics, energy, and math. 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 290,000 students have participated in the National Science Bowl throughout its 28-year history, and it is one of the nation’s largest science competitions. The DOE’s Portsmouth/Paducah Project Office organizes and staffs the event, with support from other sponsors and volunteers, from its Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant site in Pike County, Ohio,