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Going Back

by on April 17, 2014 10:20 AM

STATE COLLEGE — The first time since 2011, State College Area High School’s Science Bowl team will head to the National Science Bowl later this month in Washington, D.C.

Sponsored by the U.S. Dept. of Energy, the NSB is a nationwide academic competition that tests students’ knowledge in all areas of science and mathematics. Middle and high school student teams from diverse backgrounds are comprised of four students, one alternate and a teacher who serves as an advisor and coach.

The teams face off in a fast-paced question-and-answer format, being tested on a range of science disciplines including biology, chemistry, Earth science, physics, energy and math, according to the NSB website.

“I hope that we win,” State High Science Bowl team advisor James Bleil said. “We are pretty much trying to go over the areas that we are weakest in … hopefully re-familiarizing ourselves with some of the material we may have forgotten. I hope that the students enjoy the experience and get to see and feel rewarded for all of the hard work they have put in.”

To earn a spot at the NSB, State High’s team won the New Jersey regional portion of the competition on Feb. 22.

“In order to qualify for nationals, the team must come in first place in regionals,” Bleil said. “The last time this occurred for State High was 2011.”

The regional competition consisted of a one-day double elimination tournament, he said. Teams, made up of four people plus an alternate, were asked questions and had to buzz in to answer. The game was played in halves and a substitution could be made at the halfway point. There were eight minutes in each half.

Bleil said there are usually around 32 high school teams involved in nationals. The national competition, slated for April 24 through 28, will be the same as the regional competition, he said, but with some extracurricular activities and the ability to play with some engineering-type of problems thrown in.

“The competition will be more challenging because of the teams involved, as well as the expectation that the questions become more difficult as the competition progresses,” he said.

State High’s Science Bowl team, which has been competing for the past seven years and concentrates on competition preparation, focuses on refreshing and relearning materials students have covered in their science classes, as well as learning new material, Bleil said.

“The dynamic of the group is such that many of the older students mentor the younger students,” he said. “That helps them to understand the material to a higher degree.”

The team, which meets from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Mondays, is open to all grades. For more information visit

The DOE created the NSB in 1991 to encourage students to excel in mathematics and science and to pursue careers in these fields. Approximately 240,000 students have participated in the NSB throughout its 24 year history, and it is one of the nation’s largest science competitions. For more information visit

Staff Writer at The Centre County Gazette
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