For release: April 14, 2008

Steve Karsjen, Public Affairs, 515-294-1405


5th annual competition draws 16 schools

AMES, Iowa – The competition is expected to be fierce on Friday, April 18, when middle school students from across the state of Iowa gather to race hydrogen fuel-cell cars they’ve built for the highly popular Middle School Science Bowl, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory and Iowa State University.

Friday’s hydrogen fuel-cell car race at Howe Hall on the ISU campus from 3-4:30 p.m. will be the first part of a two-day event that also includes an academic competition on Saturday, April 19, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in Howe Hall and Hoover Hall. During the academic competition, teams consisting of four students plus one alternate will square off in a quiz-bowl competition in which they will answer questions about the physical sciences. This is the fifth year for the Middle School Science Bowl at Iowa State.

Interest on the part of schools wishing to compete in the competition was at an all-time high this year, according to Steve Karsjen, Science Bowl coordinator and Ames Laboratory Public Affairs manager. “Students and their coaches see our Science Bowl as a premier opportunity to be rewarded for their enthusiasm for science and math,” said Karsjen.

The winner of the Regional Middle School Science Bowl wins an all-expense-paid trip to compete in the National Science Bowl, June 19-22 in Golden, Colo. Prior to Friday’s fuel-cell car challenge, each team’s coach received a car kit at a workshop sponsored by the Department of Energy. Each kit contained a hydrogen fuel cell and water tank. The rest of the parts, such as the chassis and wheels, were the responsibility of the teams.

“Part of the learning experience is having the students experiment with different types of parts, which can help make their hydrogen fuel-cell cars lightweight and, therefore, faster during the race, said Karsjen. “It will be interesting to see what the students have come up with for the competition.”

During the competition, the middle school students will have an opportunity to interact with ISU students, faculty and Ames Lab staff. Members of ISU’s Solar Car Project, Team PrISUm will work with the middle school students during the fuel-cell car challenge. On Friday afternoon, the middle school students will tour Team PrISUm’s solar car and ISU Student Admissions Representatives, STARS, will provide a tour of campus. On Friday evening, the Society of Chemistry Undergraduate Majors (SCUM) will provide its unique brand of flashy and noisy science entertainment.

On Saturday morning, students, staff and faculty will serve as moderators, judges, scorekeepers and timekeepers for the question-and-answer academic competition.

Teams competing in the 2008 Ames Laboratory/ISU Regional Science Bowl are:
Anthon-Oto-Maple Valley, Boone, Evans (Ottumwa), Home Schools of Eastern Iowa (Marion), LeMars, Marcus-Meriden-Cleghorn, McKinley (Cedar Rapids), Mediapolis, Notre Dame (Burlington), Ogden, Pella Christian, South Hamilton (Jewell), St. Albert (Council Bluffs), St. Joseph (Des Moines), Tri-County (Thornburg), and Waverly-Shell Rock

Ames Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science laboratory operated for the DOE by Iowa State University. The Lab conducts research into various areas of national concern, including the synthesis and study of new materials, energy resources, high-speed computer design, and environmental cleanup and restoration.


Note to editors: A press release with the results of the competition will be issued Monday, April 21. Photos of the winning team from the fuel-cell car challenge and the top three finishers in the academic quiz bowl will be available also. If you are interested in receiving images, please contact Kerry Gibson, (515) 294-1405 or kgibson@ameslab.gov.