Trinity Catholic eighth-graders in Fort Smith prepare for National Science Bowl finals in Washington D.C.

Members of the Trinity Catholic School Science Bowl team. (Courtesty Photo)
Members of the Trinity Catholic School Science Bowl team. (Courtesty Photo)

FORT SMITH -- Five eighth-graders from Trinity Catholic School won the regional Science Bowl competition at the University of Arkansas Fort Smith last weekend.

The students earned the opportunity to travel to Washington and participate in the national finals this spring.

The National Science Bowl brings together thousands of middle and high school students from across the country to compete in a fast-paced, question-and-answer format where they solve technical problems and answer questions on a range of science disciplines including biology, chemistry, Earth and space sciences, physics and math, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Energy, which sponsors the event.

Trinity students Elliott Bray, Henry Morrison, Thienbao Nguyen, Lucas White and Lucas Woods said they've been studying hard and practicing a lot for the competition.

Tia Marsh, Trinity's Science Bowl coordinator, said this will be the school's seventh trip to Washington to compete, but that they've never won. She said they started participating in 2004 and most recently attended last year, with several of the same students returning to try again.

"Last year, the first place team was from Cambridge, Mass.," Marsh said. "It was a home-schooled group, and their parents were math and science teachers at MIT and Harvard. They will compete against students who have had up through Calculus III already and who have had physics and all of the high school science classes."

"If you've ever watched Young Sheldon, all of those kids act just like that kid," Henry said, referring to the prequel series to the Big Bang Theory. The shows follow Sheldon Cooper, a fictional character considered a child prodigy who enters college at the age of 11 and becomes a theoretical physicist.

The press release said the winning team from each qualifying regional competition will be eligible to compete in the national finals from April 25-29. It said all expenses are paid, and the event consists of several days of science activities and sightseeing, along with the competitions.

Henry said he joined the Science Bowl because he's good at science and is competitive.

"When I signed up, I didn't know we were going to get a chance to go to Washington, D.C., if we want. Then after we found out, I thought that was really cool," he said.

"I'd say I do it to have fun and go to D.C.," Lucas Woods said. "That's always a major part of doing it, because the trip is fun most of the time. And being a part of this team is always fun, too."

The top two middle and high school teams will win $5,000 for their schools' math and science departments. Other schools placing in the top 16 in the national finals will win $1,000 for their schools' science departments.

The national finals annually draw more than 10,000 participants, according to the release, and the sponsor estimates 344,000 students have competed in the finals since it began in 1991.

The Trinity students all said they want to work in science-related fields one day. Specific jobs they mentioned included astronomer, aerospace engineer, dermatologist and veterinarian.

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