Ames Lab to host High School Science Bowl in first time ever virtual format

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Iowa's top science and math students will compete at the annual Ames Laboratory/Iowa State University Regional High School Science Bowl Saturday as they have done for the past thirty years— but with a virtual twist.

For the 31st annual Science Bowl hosted by Ames Laboratory Jan. 30, teams will compete to science bowl logoanswer questions that test their knowledge of biology, chemistry, Earth and space science, mathematics, and physics as they have in years past. But this year they’ll be Zooming in, using a new remote competition format.

“Ames Laboratory hosts this event every year to give Iowa high school students an opportunity to visit the Iowa State campus, to expose them to the possibilities of a future in STEM education and careers, and to support the Department of Energy’s National Science Bowl event,” Steve Karsjen, Manager of Education and Outreach for the laboratory. “We wanted to preserve and continue that tradition during the pandemic as much as possible, and doing it remotely was the safest option for our contestants and their communities.”

Four teams advance to elimination rounds

Instead of the usual head-to-head competitions, 23 teams have been competing in two preliminary rounds each throughout the month of January, and earning total point scores based on the number of correct answers. The four teams with the highest scores have advanced to the elimination rounds being held Jan. 30— Ames High School, Dowling Catholic High School (West Des Moines), Liberty High School, and Valley High School (West Des Moines).

The Ames Laboratory/Iowa State event is one of 63 regional high school science bowl competitions to be held this year as part of the U.S. Department of Energy National Science Bowl (NSB)®.  The winners of the elimination rounds advance to compete in the U.S. Department of Energy’s national competition, with virtual preliminary rounds scheduled in April, and a virtual elimination tournament May 8, 2021.

Since the inception of the National Science Bowl®, approximately 315,000 middle and high school students have participated in regional tournaments around the country. More than 196 different Iowa high schools and more than 5,600 students have participated in the Ames Laboratory/ISU Regional Science Bowl since its beginnings in 1991.

Ames Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science research laboratory operated by Iowa State University. Ames Laboratory creates innovative materials, technologies and energy solutions. We use our expertise, unique capabilities and interdisciplinary collaborations to solve global challenges.


DOE’s Office of Science manages the NSB and sponsors the NSB finals competition. More information about these events is available on the National Science Bowl® website.

DOE’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time.  For more information, please visit



Steve Karsjen, Education and Outreach, (515) 294-5643