Five students from Blue Valley West High School are headed to the National Science Bowl competition.
Held virtually in March, the BV West team competed and won against eight other high school teams from Kansas in the Kansas City Regional Science Bowl.
The students who helped bring home victory this year include:
- Aastha Sharma
- Puneet Bagga
- Alexander Calvez
- Arnesh Sharma
- Naveen Kannan
It’s a sweet but not unique achievement for the school. In fact, BV West has established a kind of local Science Bowl dynasty.
“Out of the last five regional Science Bowls, [Blue Valley West] won four,” senior Aastha Sharma said. “And so it felt like we needed to win this one to continue the legacy.”
For the Science Bowl competition, which comprises both middle and high school divisions, students are required to solve technical problems and answer questions about different facets of science, such as chemistry, physics, mathematics, biology and earth and space science.
For the regional contest, teams first compete in a set of preliminary rounds before those with the highest combined point totals move on to the elimination-based tournament.
Sharma, who has been competing in the Science Bowl since sixth grade, said one of the most challenging aspects of the competition is simply never knowing what is going to be asked.
“Each person on the team chooses to focus on one subject, so you can really focus on it in depth,” she said. “It’s really helpful so that we all don’t learn about a bunch of different subjects.”
Blue Valley West students say they practice several days a week year-around to prepare for the competition.
The most popular studying techniques for the team are reading textbooks, watching documentaries and competing as a team in mock rounds, Sharma said.
“Our goal this year is really to not just do well in Kansas, but to do well on a national level,” she said.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Science Bowl has been held virtually. However, for the first time in two years, nationals will partially take place in person this summer.
Starting May 21, all regional winning teams will compete virtually once more for the national semi-finals to determine the top eight teams.
Then, those top eight squads will be invited to compete in person for the national championship beginning July 8 in Washington, D.C.
“Being able to compete in person is really a big source of motivation because the national tournament is so fun, and we all really want to go back,” Sharma said.
All regional winning schools received $500 for their schools’ STEM activities. They will also receive additional funds for their schools depending on how far they advance through the national tournament, with the top two teams receiving $3,000 for their schools.
The Department of Energy created the National Science Bowl in 1991 to encourage students to excel in mathematics and science and to pursue careers in these fields.
Approximately 325,000 students have participated in the Science Bowl throughout its 31-year history.