Vermillion High students travel to National Science Bowl competition by David Lias What metal is most commonly used to stimulate a better immune response when administered in vaccines?
More than 300 senior high school students who know the answers to questions like this one, including five students from Vermillion High School, will be winging their way to Washington, DC this week to compete in the 12th annual Department of Energy National Science Bowl.
The participating teams were this year's champions in 64 regional competitions involving 1,800 schools and 12,000 students.
VHS students Thomas Dendinger, Geng Wang, Keshav Arogyaswamy, Chris Hayes, Craig Bierle, and their coach, Bill Settles, a physics teacher at Vermillion High School, competed in the National Science Bowl regional tournament Feb. 9 in Huron.
During competition held that morning, the Vermillion team defeated teams from Brandon Valley, Watertown Lutheran and Highmore.
The VHS team was the number two seed for the eight-team double elimination tournament held that afternoon.
The Vermillion squad defeated teams from Parkston, West Central and Huron, who for three straight years has produced the champions in the South Dakota regional tournament.
The VHS students wrapped up a perfect day at the regional competition by defeating Rapid City Stevens in the finals.
VHS team member Craig Bierle received third place honors for the number of individual toss-up questions answered.
By winning the regional competition, the Vermillion team won an all-expense paid trip to Washington in May to compete in the national tournament.
On Saturday, May 4, the students will attend a symposium where Physics Nobel Laureate William Phillips will describe how he uses laser light to slow down and cool atoms to almost absolute zero, trapping them for research.
Other scientists will present work ranging from astrophysics to ecology.
On Sunday, the competition will begin with 10 round robin matches, followed by double elimination matches to determine the top 18 teams.
The teams will answer increasingly difficult questions in biology, chemistry, physics, astronomy, mathematics and earth, computer and general sciences.
Finalist rounds beginning Monday morning will decide the top four teams. Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham will give remarks and hand out prizes at an award ceremony.
The champion team will win a two-week trip to England to attend the International Youth Science Forum. Second, third, and fourth place teams will attend a one-week research trip at an Energy Deparment facility. The top 18 teams will receive $1,000 each for their schools.
The Department of Energy created the National Science Bowl in 1991 to encourage high school students to excel in math and science to pursue careers in these fields.
The department supports math and science education to help provide a technically trained and diverse workforce for the agency and the nation. This year's competition is sponsored by Bechtel, IBM and Texas Instruments.