Team advances to National Science Bowl in nation's capital

Westview High School’s Team 1 took first place in the 23rd annual Bonneville Power Administration Regional Science Bowl held on Saturday at the University of Portland in North Portland.

By coming out on top among 72 high school teams and 300 students in Oregon and Washington, Westview’s team will receive an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, D.C., in April to compete in the Department of Energy National Science Bowl as well as for $85,000 in scholarships to colleges and universities throughout the Northwest.

Westview had 14 students divided among three teams in the bowl. Team 1 members included Abhjihit Mudigonda, 16, David Wang, 17, Eddie Wang, 17, Vincent Zhuang, 17, and Chris Younkins, 18.

In addition to the Westview success, two Beaverton students from other schools were recognized as Regional Science Bowl All Stars for answering the most answers correctly. Richik Neogi on the Beaverton School of Science and Technology Team 1 answered 28 questions correctly, while Ashwin Sah on Jesuit High School’s Team 2 successfully answered 26 questions.

After several rounds of competition in the morning, the teams were whittled down to 16 that advanced into the double-elimination championship rounds. Westview’s Team 1 emerged to take the top spot in the 17th round, with Interlake High School Team 1 of Bellevue, Wash., coming in second.

Bonneville Power hosts the BPA Regional Science Bowl as part of its commitment to encouraging young minds to engage in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, noted Elliot Mainzer, Bonneville Power’s administrator. The competition serves to showcase students’ talents while ensuring a future pool of engineers, scientists and innovators considered critical to the energy industry.

“We really want to support all of you in your love of science,” Mainzer said to the high school students during a noon gathering on Saturday. “We need you as the innovators and leaders in the future of energy.”

Westview science teacher Brad Helsel, who serves as adviser and mentor for the school’s Science Bowl Club, said it was thrilling, if nerve-racking, to see how Team 1’s victory unfolded.

“It was a lot of fun to watch the kids have so much success,” he said. “Especially since the final match determined the champion. Westview had to come from behind and win on the final question. The drama was too much.”

Based on the Westview team’s performance at the regional event, Helsel is confident the national competition won’t pose an undue hardship for the students.

“Just getting there is a big accomplishment,” he said. “All of the teams that get there are insanely gifted, so just being there puts you in good company. I think our kids are as talented as any, so I think they will be very competitive.”

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