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West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South wins regional Science Bowl at PPPL

The West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South team won the U.S. Department of Energy’s New Jersey Regional High School Science Bowl at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory on Feb. 23 in a dramatic up-to-the-finish line contest against the Bergen County team with a final score of 88 to 72. The Bridgewater-Raritan Middle School won the Middle School Science Bowl on Feb. 22.  

West Windsor Plainsboro went into the final round undefeated but at the beginning of the game, Bergen County was ahead 64 to 4 and at half-time the score was 64 to 22, with Bergen County leading.  The winning team, however, managed to come back in the second half.

“It feels good,” said team member Arnav Sood. “It was up to the last question. It was pretty intense.”

For senior Alexander Clifton, the team’s captain, whose middle school team went to the nationals when he was in eighth grade, it was a sweet victory. The team had come in second in the regional competition in 2012 and 2011 and had won the competition in 2010. “I worked really hard in 9th, 10th and 11th grade,” he said. “Now I finally earned it.”

West Windsor-Plainsboro-South will receive an all-expenses paid trip to the National 4-H Center in Maryland just outside of Washington D.C. for the national competition. The final rounds will be held at the National Monuments Building in Washington DC.

The Bergen County team, which is based in Hackensack, came in second in the competition and a team from State College, Pa., won third place.

Some 200 high school students on 32 teams from throughout New Jersey competed in the Science Bowl in which teams of four to five people answer science questions in rounds of 25 questions and 25 bonus questions in a double elimination format. More than 50 volunteers from PPPL worked on the Science Bowl each day as moderators, judges, and timekeepers.

This year, volunteer judges and moderators at PPPL used Kindle tablets instead of paper for the contest – saving $1,000 worth of paper. The contest also used a software program specially designed by Eliot Feibush, a computational scientist at PPPL with the help of his high school interns. The program gave up-to-the-minute results -- as well as providing the latest brackets for an electronic display in the Lab’s main lobby showing what teams were playing each other and where. Contestants could download the program on their smart phones to view the results from anywhere at PPPL. Feibush previously designed a software program that instantly keeps scores in real time.

In the DOE’s Middle School Science Bowl on Feb. 22 in which about 100 students on about 16 teams competed, the Bridgewater-Raritan Middle School placed first in a final contest against JDroids Science Club based in Wayne with a score of 128 to 90.  Thomas Grover Middle School, a middle school in the West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional School District placed third. The School Spirit Award went to Pond Road Middle School in Robbinsville.

Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and managed by Princeton University, advances the coupled fields of fusion energy and plasma physics. Fusion is the process that powers the sun and the stars. In the interior of stars, matter is converted into energy by the fusion, or joining, of the nuclei of light atoms to form heavier elements. At PPPL, physicists use a magnetic field to confine plasma. Scientists hope eventually to use fusion energy for the generation of electricity. Visit http://www.pppl.gov/.

U.S. Department of Energy
Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory managed by Princeton University.

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