University High School Wins Regional Science Bowl at NASA’s JPL

For the second year in a row, a team from Irvine’s University High School claimed victory at a regional competition of the National Science Bowl, hosted Saturday, Feb. 3, by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.

More than 100 students from 21 schools in Los Angeles and Orange counties competed in the academic challenge, which marked JPL’s 32nd year as host. Fullerton’s Troy High won second place, and Arcadia High placed third.

Teams from University High have triumphed at the event several times in recent years. The school also won this year’s regional Ocean Sciences Bowl, hosted last month by JPL.

In National Science Bowl competitions, students have mere seconds to answer multiple-choice questions on topics including biology, chemistry, Earth science, physics, energy, and math. Four students and one alternate compose each team, with a teacher serving as coach.

Student teams spend months preparing, both studying and practicing their technique with the bowl’s “Jeopardy!”-style buzzers. Dozens of volunteers from JPL help make sure the contest runs smoothly. It all comes down to a surprisingly intense event.

“There’s so much energy, it’s a thrill to watch,” said JPL Public Services Office manager Kim Lievense, who’s been coordinating the competition for the lab since 1993. “I just love seeing the students’ concentration and commitment, and knowing how rewarding it is for volunteers as well.”

University High is now eligible to compete against winners from dozens of other regional competitions across the country at the national finals tournament, held in Washington April 25-29.

Run by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, the National Science Bowl is one of the nation’s largest academic science competitions. More than 344,000 students have participated since the competition began in 1991.

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