April 2005

Middle School Science Bowl Promotes Academic Excellence

The third annual Florida Middle School Science Bowl was hosted by FSEC on April 2, with a record-setting 29 teams participating in the event.

Overview of Science Bowl participants and audience
Twenty-nine teams competed in the Florida Science Bowl at FSEC on April 2. They were cheered on by about 250 teachers, parents and other family members.
(Photo: Nick Waters)

The Science Bowl, which is designed to encourage middle school students to excel in mathematics, science and engineering, has the underlying theme that academic success is on a par with athletic success. The event has two components: a fast-paced question- and-answer competition and a hands-on engineering event. Teams participate in the academic competition until one winning team remains. The top eight teams then participate in a hands-on science activity, building and racing a hydrogen fuel cell model car.

At this year's event, the general elimination round was comprised of science and mathematics questions posed to the teams, who were allowed to confer prior to giving an answer. Teams were allowed five misses before they were dismissed to the sidelines. This procedure continued until eight finalist teams remained. Those eight then competed in a fast-paced double elimination tournament until one team was identified as the winner.

Rochelle School of the Arts
Team members from Rochelle School of the Arts confer on their answer in a preliminary round of the Florida Science Bowl.
(Photo: Nick Waters)

The Lincoln Middle School team, Gainesville, FL, won the academic portion of the program and will represent Florida at the National Science Bowl in Golden, CO, on June 23-26. The team (which won every round of their competition) will design, build and race their hydrogen fuel cell car at the national event.

During a break in the Science Bowl, the eight finalist teams participated in a hands-on hydrogen workshop designed to deepen the students' understanding of hydrogen fuel cell technology and prepare the teams for the National Science Bowl and the Florida Solar Energy Center's EnergyWhiz Olympics. FSEC's James Haggard presented the teams with a general overview of hydrogen and provided some pointers on building a hydrogen fuel cell model car. Although there are multiple ways to store hydrogen and make the model cars run, his workshop demonstrated a design using balloons as the storage tanks. After the workshop, teams were required to design hydrogen storage tanks for the fuel cells that will power the vehicles in the design component of the hands-on competition.

The teams were provided with the hydrogen fuel cells from General Motors, one of the program co-sponsors. Assorted construction materials were funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, and additional support and equipment were provided by FSEC's Hydrogen Technology Learning Center .

Last year's National Academic winners from Ronald McNair Magnet Middle School (Cocoa, FL) finished in second place this year. The eight top teams will return to FSEC for the EnergyWhiz Olympics on May 7 to demonstrate their hydrogen fuel cell cars during the day-long event that includes the Junior Solar Sprint, High School Hydrogen Sprint and the Middle School Hands-on Hydrogen Demonstration.

For more information, click here to contact Susan Schleith or call 321-638-1017. More information on the various events is available at http://www.fsec.ucf.edu/en/education/k-12/events/index.htm.

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