Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly said that all five members of Takoma Park Middle School’s National Science Bowl team are seventh-graders. Team member John Lathrop is in the eighth grade. This version has been corrected.
They had to quickly spout knowledge about Punnett squares, diffractive scattering, Gila monsters and vectors. They also had to name the parts of a cell where RNA is made, then calculate the product of 84 and 96.
After days of intense competition, students from Takoma Park Middle School in Montgomery County took second place in this year’s U.S. Energy Department National Science Bowl on Monday morning in the District. Students from Creekside Middle School in Carmel, Ind., came in first.
“The other team, they were full of surprises,” said David Wu, 13, Takoma Park’s team captain.
Takoma Park’s team, composed of four seventh-graders and one eighth-grader, said they were disappointed with the loss but were already thinking about improving their game to compete again next year in the academic tournament, which features rounds of fast-paced questions about all areas of science.
“We’ve figured out a lot that we did wrong and stuff to work on for next year,” said 13-year-old Noah Singer.
By finishing among the top eight teams, the Takoma Park students won $1,000 for their school’s science department. Other members of the team were Anish Senapati, 12, John Lathrop, 13, and Elliot Kienzle, 13.
It was a tough road to the runner-up spot. More than 5,000 middle school students from about 1,020 teams around the country competed in regional academic bowls this year. Only about 110 of those teams were eligible to compete for the middle school and high school national championships.
“I’m so proud of them,” Takoma Park coach Rebecca Epling said. “They’re collaborative, they all have their strengths and weaknesses, but they all support each other in play and they’re such good friends.”
Students from Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology also won $1,000 after making it to the top 16 of the high school competition. The team from the Fairfax County magnet school went undefeated for four rounds of competition, but it couldn’t break into the final eight.
The team from Mira Loma High School in Sacramento won the championship.
Locally, teams from BASIS DC and Woodrow Wilson High School, both in the District, and Nysmith School in Herndon also competed.
The Energy Department started the National Science Bowl in 1991 to encourage students to study and pursue careers in science, math, engineering and teaching.