Teamwork Triumphs at 2020 Illinois Regional Middle School Science Bowl

On Jan. 25, 2020, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory Educational Programs and Outreach hosted the 2020 Illinois Regional Science Bowl Competition at Oswego East High School, where 15 different schools competed in an academic competition across a wide range of STEM topics.

“The Science Bowl is a great way for middle school students to develop teamwork skills and engage in challenging science and math content,” said Argonne Education Outreach lead Jessica Burgess. “This important and fun-filled competition forms a key part of our ongoing work to build and maintain STEM engagement within our region.”

Argonne advances STEM engagement at a young age through the Science Bowl, challenging middle schoolers to work together as teams and demonstrate their knowledge of diverse STEM subjects. Even without winning, the experience leaves a positive mark on participants. “At the end,” one student from Maple School said, “you get the sense of ‘I did it’ — ‘I worked hard and achieved something.’” By building students’ sense of accomplishment, Argonne encourages them to further develop their STEM skills as well as explore and pursue STEM career pathways.

“The Science Bowl is a great way for middle school students to develop teamwork skills and engage in challenging science and math content. This important and fun-filled competition forms a key part of our ongoing work to build and maintain STEM engagement within our region.” — Jessica Burgess, Argonne Education Outreach lead

Students from all the schools devoted considerable amounts of practice time and hard work in preparation for the competition. Maple School, for instance, had 20 applicants who formed not only a competition team but two challenger teams as well. “It takes a lot of people, and a lot of effort, and a lot of caring for teams to succeed,” said Maple School science teacher and coach Robin Dombeck.

Daniel Wright Junior High School coach Tony Hafner agreed with Dombeck. “You look at every team that was out here competing with each other,” he said, “and you see that everyone’s bright and talented, and everyone’s smart. What matters is teamwork.”

After a final tie-breaker round, Daniel Wright Junior High School won first place. Maple School came in second place, and Plum Grove Junior High School came in third place. Daniel Wright will travel to the National Science Bowl competition in Washington, D.C., set to start on April 30. There, students will meet nationally renowned scientists and take their STEM skills to the next level.

All the teams greatly enjoyed the regional Science Bowl. “I think that anyone who is interested in science should definitely consider doing Science Bowl,” a Plum Grove student said. The coaches also expressed their gratitude for Argonne’s role in making the event possible for their schools.  “Argonne is always so supportive of the programs that they offer in Education,” Hafner said on behalf of Daniel Wright. “We’re just really lucky to be in their regional.”

Science Bowl is but one of many Argonne-hosted events that challenge middle through high school students’ STEM potential. Many students participate in multiple activities hosted by Argonne. For instance, both Daniel Wright and Maple plan to enter Argonne’s Middle School Electric Car Competition this year. Combined, all these competitions form critical pipelines for STEM growth and are key to Argonne Education’s ongoing STEM outreach.

This work was supported in part by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists (WDTS).

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America’s scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

The U.S. Department of Energy’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, visit https://energy.gov/science.

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