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Lexington High School Wins Regional Science Bowl

Team Outscored Boston University Academy in Finals

A team from Lexington High School won this year’s Massachusetts Regional Science Bowl. Shown from left are coach Nicholas Gould and students Lisa Liu, Amy Zhang, Welkin Uttaro, James Zhang and Jaeyoon Lee.

03/03/2010
By Edwin L. Aguirre

A team from Lexington High School beat 28 other teams from across the state and New Hampshire to win the Massachusetts Regional Science Bowl, held Feb. 27 on the North Campus.

The “Jeopardy”-style academic competition, sponsored by UMass Lowell’s Francis College of Engineering and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science, tested the students’ knowledge in the areas of astronomy, biology, chemistry, earth science, general science, mathematics and physics.

The Lexington team took home the top honors by outscoring Boston University Academy in the championship round. Natick High School, along with a second team from Lexington High, made it to the semifinals.

Members of the winning Lexington team include Lisa Liu, Jaeyoon Lee, James Zhang, Amy Zhang and Welkin Uttaro, and coach Nicholas Gould. They will be eligible to participate at the National Science Bowl Finals, to be held April 29 to May 4 in Washington, D.C. Lee and Gould participated in last year’s national championship finals, in which Lexington High School garnered second place.

“Congratulations to Lexington High School for winning the Regional Science Bowl,” said College of Engineering Dean John Ting. “I’m impressed with all the students for their talent and skills in math and science, and for their dedication and hard work. Overall, I think the Science Bowl went very well, considering this was the first time UMass Lowell hosted the event ߞ; a lot of work, but very worthwhile.”

“Kudos to UMass Lowell and all the volunteers for doing such a great job running the event,” said Gould, who teaches physics. “The kids on my team participate, first and foremost, because of a genuine love of science. Many of them try out for the team in their freshman year and study countless hours, writing questions and running simulated rounds with the hope that they will be able to participate in a Science Bowl at some point before they graduate. For many of them, Science Bowl is like a sports team -; they form bonds and friendships that last throughout high school. This activity means so much to many of them.”

“Winning the Science Bowl was an exciting experience,” said Amy Zhang, a sophomore at Lexington. “It was great to compete against the other teams and meet other students who love science.”

“It’s gratifying to know that all the time our team had put in paid off,” said Lee, a senior. “In the future I would like to go into physics or engineering -; I’m finding the choice between the two very tough.”

“The regional competition was an amazing, albeit somewhat stressful, experience,” said James Zhang, also a senior. “In college, I plan to continue my studies in the sciences, possibly in the field of engineering or medicine. One day, I hope to make an important discovery or innovation that will help improve people’s lives.”

Mark Goulet of Merck, who volunteered as moderator during the elimination rounds, considers Science Bowl one of a very few annual events that allow students who have a passion for science to demonstrate their knowledge in a fun and stimulating way.

“This mental competition features some of the smartest young scientists in the nation and I find it inspirational to see them ‘in action’ during this event,” he said. “In many ways, it is like an athletic tournament.”

Goulet believes UMass Lowell provided a fantastic venue.

“The staff and faculty were enthusiastically supportive of the Science Bowl and student teams,” he said. “A special acknowledgement is due to Engineering Student Programs Coordinator Betti Fortin, who served as the always-smiling ring leader.  Dean Ting also is to be commended for providing the venue -; on short notice -; and for spending his Saturday helping at the event. The student volunteers were equally dedicated and the venue was perfect -; college classrooms within a science and engineering department.”

Goulet’s colleague at Merck, Andrew Haidle, who also served as moderator, said high-school participants will benefit from the event in more than one way.

“The competition can help high-school kids by making them more generally knowledgeable about science as well as honing their ability to compete in a high-pressure exam situation,” he said.

“I was quite impressed with how smoothly everything went,” said Ting, “from the Facilities Department prepping all the classrooms the day before and the great ‘pizza buffet’ that ARA Food Services provided in the Southwick food court to Mike Lucas of the IT Department providing us with access to the large-screen TV on the third floor of Kitson so we could display the results. The Special Events Department helped coordinate a lot of the logistics. The key to it all is Betti Fortin and her squad of volunteers -; mostly students from E-Council, but also from around campus. These include faculty members like Bob Malloy, John McKelliget, Steve Pennell and Michele Pagliarulo, volunteers from Merck and especially Ishan Patel, a grad student at MIT who helped run Science Bowl at Boston University over the past several years. Ishan helped train our volunteers and was the head scorekeeper.” 

All students received a Science Bowl T-shirt as giveaway. The top eight teams were given 8 GB flash drives and Engineering fleece shirts, while the winner, finalist and semifinalists each received medals and plaques.

For more information about the National Science Bowl, visit http://science.energy.gov/wdts/nsb/.

A Boston University Academy team won second place at the Science Bowl. Shown from left are coach Dimity Peter and students Mike Wells, Kit Haines, George Silvis and Betsy Riley.
Lexington High School and BU Academy teams battle it out in the final round.