On February 22 and 23, bright middle school students from across Iowa will compete in the Iowa Regional competition of the National Science Bowl, which the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science hosts annually to encourage today's youth to pursue careers in science and math. This year's regional competition begins this Friday at the Iowa State University campus.
Since its inception 23 years ago, the Office of Science's National Science Bowl has attracted more than 225,000 students and has become one of the nation's largest science competitions. This year, about 9,500 more high school students and 4,500 middle school students are expected to engage, many of whom will likely go on to become scientists and teachers, engineers and leaders. But first, the students will have to win through the battle of wits, and that won't be easy.
In the regional competitions, teams of four students each will be faced with tough mathematical problems and tested on their knowledge of a vast number of areas, including astronomy, biology, Earth science and physics. Regional winners will earn fully-paid trips to Washington, D.C. for the National Finals, scheduled for April 25-29. There, the students will be tested with more difficult questions, as well as a car race (for middle school competitors) and a science challenge (for high school students). The national champions will receive pretty amazing prizes.
Although the prizes will be much sought after, the real value of the Science Bowl is in the habits of discipline and deferred gratification that all of the students learn along the way; the necessity of hitting the books instead of the mall (see http://science.energy.gov/news/in-focus/2012/12-12-12/). Those hard-won habits of mind - and will - are likely to make the students successful in life long after the Finals are over. And that's what the National Science Bowl is really all about.
So let the battle of wits begin, and come out this Saturday to cheer on your favorite team!
DOE's Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit http://science.energy.gov/, and for more information about the National Science Bowl, please visit http://science.energy.gov/wdts/nsb/.