Simply competing in the national science quiz was a major thrill for these young science fans

DAVID F. ASHTON - After winning a round in the regional National Science Bowl competition, these sixth-graders from Lane Middle School Team #1 - Sofia Luke, Grace Stephenson, Coach Bruce Eric Reiter, Tristan Shaffer, and Ian Reyes - were happy and proud. Science-loving students from Sellwood Middle School (SMS) and Lane Middle School (LMS) arose early on Saturday morning, February 3, so their parents could take them to the University of Portland campus to compete against other area schools in the regionals of the Department of Energy's 28th "National Science Bowl".

Teams of students from both these Inner Southeast Portland schools pitted their math and science knowledge, as well as their reflexes, against one another, in the fast-paced question-and-answer competition.

Chosen to be their team's spokesperson, SMS eighth grader Klara Kjome Fischer told us that she's been part of the program for two years. "I decided to get involved with this, because I love science; and the competition sounded really fun – and, in fact, it has been fun!

"The most important things I've gotten out of this are learning how to work together with my team, and knowing how to behave in a stressful competition – it's definitely all about the team," she grinned. "And, I like being around all of these kids who like science, all in one place – and then split up in the competitions – it's really cool!"

The SMS team's coach, Craig Naze, observed, "Science is so important in education, especially in today's world, with all the technological advances that we have; this program gives an opportunity for the brightest of the bright students in science to hang out with others who are interested in science is much as they are."

And, after the competition, the team from Lane Middle School enjoyed a pizza party to celebrate their participation – and winning a round.

"Our team felt pretty happy about winning a game. We each had four rounds, and the first three times we lost, and we're all rather unhappy about that; but, when we won our last round, we felt really happy, because it's nice because it's nice to know that you've won because you know all the information asked," remarked the LMS spokesperson, sixth grader Sofia Luke.

"I wanted to go to the competition to have fun, and I thought it would be a good experience, especially because our team are sixth-graders," Sofia added. "And it was fun, and it was a great experience."

The LMS coach, Bruce Eric Reiter, told us he's been helping students get ready for the National Science Bowl for 15 years. "I've been teaching science for a long time; I figured this would be a good opportunity for the kids to get out there and see other students, of their age, that are also interested in science and mathematics!"

The general fields of science covered in the quiz included physical science, life science, Earth and space science, general science, and energy.

"It was so neat when the sixth-graders won a round, especially because they're going against seventh and eighth graders," Reiter said. "Their win looks like it will inspire many of them to continue in the program next year!"

While the teams didn't win the big prize at this particular regional competition – that was an all-expenses-paid trip to compete in the finals in Washington D. C. – team members from both schools agreed that they did learn more about science, they came away with a sense of fulfillment, and they definitely had fun.

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