It may not be the Super Bowl, but the Idaho National Laboratory is hosting a competitive “bowl” of its own this week.
Thirty-seven eastern Idaho schools will participate in this year’s Department of Energy Office of Science Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists Idaho Science Bowl. The Jeopardy!-style tournament pits high school and middle students in a math and science competition.
The high school tournament — which has 25 teams and includes teams from Skyline, Bonneville, Rigby and Thunder Ridge high schools — will take place Thursday at the Center for Higher Education Building on Science Center Drive. The middle school tournament — which includes Mackay Junior High School and Teton Middle School — takes place Friday morning in the same building. More than 200 students will participate in the event.
The winners from each tournament will represent the region at the U.S. Department of Energy National Science Bowl, which takes place April 25-29 in Washington D.C.
It is the 29th year INL has sponsored the event, according to an INL news release, with this year being the fifth time middle school teams will be involved.
“The goal is to encourage students across the U.S. and Idaho to pursue classes in math and science,” said Steve Zollinger , who’s been a part of the competition for many years and works as a contractor for INL. “It’s an effort to showcase students and their expertise.”
The round-robin tournament (a tournament where each competitor plays against all other contestants) begins at 8:30 a.m. as the top two high school teams from three different groups will compete in a six-team championship round at 5 p.m.
The three groups are the following:
Class A high schools: Hillcrest, Bonneville, Twin Falls, Jerome, Highland, Century (Pocatello), Canyon Ridge (Twin Falls), Skyline, Thunder Ridge, Idaho Falls and Rigby
Class B high schools: Preston, Kimberly, Marsh Valley (Arimo), South Fremont
Class C high schools: Wendell, Oakley, Mackay, Ririe, Malad, Soda Springs, Challis, Butte County, West Side (Dayton) and West Jefferson
For the middle school tournament, three round-robin tournaments will take place at 9:30 a.m., with the top team in each pool advancing to the championship round at 1 p.m.
Middle schools involved include: Irving (Pocatello), Jerome, Mackay, Malad, Rigby and Teton. Alameda (Pocatello), Vera C. O’Leary (Twin Falls) and Preston each will have two middle school teams participating.
Zollinger said teams will earn 10 points for answering toss-up questions correctly and then five points if the team answers a follow-up question correctly. Matches take 20 minutes as most matches see about 40 questions ranging from computer science to geography.
Zollinger said that questions, which were created by the U.S. Department of Energy, will be about “75 percent math and science” related.
High school teams will have about eight members, Zollinger said. Middle school teams will have five.
“It’s much more enjoyable and fun to watch than you would think,” Zollinger said. “Some of those matches go down to the wire.”