If they win the regional Science Bowl in Portland on Saturday, Timberline High School’s team will have bragging rights, scholarship offers and a free trip to Washington, D.C., for the U.S. Department of Energy’s national competition in late April.
Oh, and their coach Tim Koontz will have to pay up.
“He’s going to let us dye his hair,” said senior Renee Redman, 17, with a giggle. “That’s, like, my motivation to try.”
Nine students from Timberline will compete at the regional competition at the University of Portland. According to a Department of Energy news release, they’re the only Thurston County high school team scheduled to square off against students from about 40 high schools in Washington and Oregon in the fast-paced question-and-answer game that will test their knowledge on biology, chemistry, energy, math and Earth science.
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“It’s just a congregation of nerds,” joked sophomore Aditi Kumar, 15.
Kumar helped form Timberline’s team last year because she enjoyed competing in Science Bowl when she was in the Challenge Academy at Aspire Middle School. She said her favorite part about the activity is that it’s based on her favorite subjects: science and math.
“Science Bowl is a good way to integrate both of them,” Kumar said.
Timberline’s team has been practicing twice a week since the beginning of the school year, and the majority of its members were on last year’s team.
“I feel like we’re a whole lot more structured (this year),” said senior Matthew Taing, 18. “We’ve had more practice.”
As part of their strategy, they’ve worked to create experts on certain subjects for each of the school’s four-person teams.
For example, senior Monica Stephenson, 17, has read entire earth science and biology textbooks to prepare for the competition. She’s also watched videos, read articles online and practiced quiz questions on those subjects.
“I’m trying to get as much information crammed into my head as possible,” she said.
Terrell Strong, 17, a junior, described last year’s Science Bowl as a “really competitive atmosphere.” Timberline’s team was eliminated early on last year.
But this year, everybody knows what to expect, he said.
“I think we’ll definitely do a little better,” Strong said. “I think we’re pretty good.”