Southern California high school students had mere seconds to answer complex science questions that would rattle even the most stalwart rocket scientist in the regional round of the U.S. Department of Energy's National Science Bowl on Jan. 25, 2020.
The team from University High School in Irvine, California, won first place for the third year in a row at the tournament, which has been hosted by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, for almost three decades. They'll advance to the national competition, held in Washington from April 30 to May 4.
Twenty-three teams competed in this year's competition, which has become so popular that schools are chosen via a lottery system.
John Callas, project manager for the Spirit and Opportunity Mars rovers and manager of the NASA-NSF Exoplanet Observational Research program, has volunteered as a Science Bowl moderator for 26 years. "I'm still impressed with how quickly these young minds can answer a very complicated question. A question that I, today, would have to take out a piece of paper and spend maybe five minutes on doing the calculation, they do within seconds in their heads," he said. Needless to say, calculators aren't allowed.
One example of a past tournament's "easy" questions reads: "A famous principle of fluid mechanics, traditionally attributed as the explanation behind lift on an airplane wing, is named after what scientist?"
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