February 28, 2013 in Washington Voices

Regional science bowl crew gets ready to race

By The Spokesman-Review
Dan Pelle photoBuy this photo

Centennial Middle School science bowl students Zack Higginson, 12, and Lijun Wright, 13, build a battery- powered race car after school Feb. 21.
(Full-size photo)

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Regional students will race their cars at 1 p.m. Friday at the Libby Center gymnasium, 2900 E. First Ave. The academic competition starts at 9:15 a.m. Saturday at Weyerhaeuser Hall on Whitworth University’s campus.

The bell heralded the end of the school day, but learning didn’t stop for a few Centennial Middle School seventh-graders who stayed behind to tinker with their lithium battery-powered cars.

Two teams of students are preparing for the Inland Northwest Regional Science Bowl where they’ll race against other teams and test their knowledge.

It takes problem-solving to build these cars from a kit. The team had a battery blow up and burned themselves with the hot glue gun.

And the car seems a little sluggish as it totes 1 pound of iodized salt.

“I’m pretty sure our battery isn’t charged enough, but it’s maybe possible that the battery and motor capacity isn’t enough to pull something this heavy,” student Zack Higginson said. “We may have a problem here.”

The students are learning about themselves while putting the final touches on their car.

“We’ve learned that teamwork really helps a lot. It doesn’t really when we argue and try do it our own way,” student Cameron Geiger said.

They all have a part in their project. Geiger designed the car’s blueprint. Noel Goodwin helped paste the pieces together and wire the car’s battery.

But that’s only one part of the competition, adviser David Howe said.

On Saturday, teams will face questions on physics, astronomy, chemistry and biology in a round robin-style tournament. Each team has four members and one alternate.

This is the first bowl for his students, so Howe, a science teacher, sees this as their opportunity for trial and error.

“Next year, they’ll really be sharp and hopefully do some great things,” Howe said.

The competition was created by the Department of Energy to encourage students to do well in mathematics and science and pursue careers in those fields including engineering, according to its website. With that goal in mind, Howe has great hopes for his competitors.

“Hopefully someday they’ll become scientists or engineers or mathematicians,” Howe said.

Winners of the regional competition hosted at Whitworth University will be invited to the National Science Bowl in April.

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