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Central Academy Of Des Moines Finishes Near the Top in National Science Bowl

Central Academy receives $1,500 for its school's science program

For release: May 6, 2009

Steve Karsjen, Public Affairs, 515-294-5643

AMES, Iowa—AMES, Iowa—Central Academy of Des Moines finished in the prestigious "Sweet 16" bracket of the U.S. Department of Energy's National High School Science Bowl held in Washington, D.C. April 30-May 4. The finish near the top of the competition netted the team $1,500 for Central Academy's science program.

Central Academy began the pool play portion of the Science Bowl competition on Sunday morning, racking up an impressive record of five wins and one loss in their division. But because another team, Philips Exeter Academy, had the same won/loss record, the two teams were forced into a tie-break situation, which was decided by the results of the Division Team Challenge, an interactive science experiment that all teams participated in and were graded on. Because Central Academy's grade was higher than Philips Exeter's, Central won the right to advance to the Sweet 16 double-elimination portion of the Science Bowl held on Sunday afternoon.

 Image Central Academy team with its $1,000 check for finishing in the “Sweet 16” portion of the High School Science Bowl. Featured in photo from left to right are: Coach Jeff Hepburn; Alice Xu; Kerrick Staley; William Valdez, director, Department of Energy Office of Workforce Development; Luchang Wang, Alex Crichton; and Kyle Moss.

Central began the double elimination with a lopsided loss to Mira Loma High School of Sacramento, Calif. but recovered quickly, winning its next three matches against Punahou High School of Hawaii, St. Paul Central of Minnesota and West Windsor-Plainsboro of New Jersey. The team was no match, however, for Lexington High School of Massachusetts and was defeated, thus eliminating it from further play. Mira Loma High School eventually went on to win the National Science Bowl; Lexington placed second.

Following the loss in double elimination, Central Academy coach Jeff Hepburn said he was very proud of Central's place in the competition and the way the team members worked together to advance as far as they did. "We didn't win the competition, but you have to be proud of the fact that we are one of the top 16 Science Bowl teams in the nation," said Hepburn.

In addition to bragging rights, by placing in the Sweet 16, Central received a check for $1,000 for its school's science program. Also, because the team had the highest score of any of the eight teams in its division on the Division Team Challenge, it won another $500, for a total of $1,500 in winnings. Members of the Central Academy team included: Kyle Moss, Alex Crichton, Kerrick Staley, Alice Xu and Luchang Wang.

In addition to the High School Science Bowl, teams also participated on the same weekend in the National Middle School Science Bowl. Representing Iowa at the middle school event was Eleanor Roosevelt Middle School from Dubuque. The Eleanor Roosevelt students participated in both an academic competition like the one in which the high school students participated and a hydrogen fuel-cell car race.

Although the Eleanor Roosevelt students did not place in either competition, coach Jennifer Meyer said she was “immensely pleased” with the support shown to the young future scientists at Science Bowl. 'Three of our students will have the opportunity to compete again next year, and they're already excited about forming their team,” Meyer said. Members of the Eleanor Roosevelt Middle School team included: Autumn Johnson, Blaine Tunnel, Rachel Bruflodt, Pooja Patel and Alex Baranski.

Both Central Academy and Eleanor Roosevelt advanced to the National Science Bowl by winning their respective Regional competitions, which are sponsored annually by the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames National Laboratory located in Ames, Iowa. In 2009, Ames Laboratory held its 19th annual Regional High School Science Bowl and its sixth annual Regional Middle School Science Bowl. The National Science Bowl is the largest academic competition of its kind in the country, with a total of 67 high school teams and 36 middle school teams competing in 2009.

"Ames Laboratory is proud to support this event, which so strongly encourages excellence in science and math education—a key thrust of the Lab's mission," said Steve Karsjen, Ames Lab's Science Bowl coordinator.

Ames Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science laboratory operated for the DOE 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.