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Friday, 06 March 2015 11:36

Local Teams Prepare for Regional Science Bowl

By | Education

Saratoga, Ballston Spa Students Put Math and Science Knowledge to the Test

SARATOGA COUNTY – Thousands of middle and high school students across the U.S. will soon be pitting their math and science knowledge – and their reflexes – against one another in regional competitions of the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) National Science Bowl (NSB). 

2015 marks the 25th National Science Bowl, which the DOE Office of Science launched to interest today’s youth in pursuing careers in science and math.

Maple Avenue Middle School and Ballston Spa Middle School will compete against teams from Albany, Cherry Plain, Delmar, Rensselaer, Schenectady and Scotia on Saturday, March 7 at the GE Global Research Center in Niskayuna, to determine the team to represent the region in the middle school National Finals of the NSB.

The winner of the regional competition will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. to compete in the Office of Science’s National Science Bowl in late April and the winner of the national competition will win prizes for the team members and their schools.

This is the first year in the last decade, at least, that Maple Avenue Middle School has a science bowl team to send to the regional competition. The team consists of Julianna Hachenski, an eighth grader who also serves as the team captain; Quinn Montgomery, eighth grade; Rian Davis, seventh grade; Corwin Freedman, seventh grade; and Alec Johnson, seventh grade. Science teacher, John Scrivo, is the team’s advisor and coach.

“These guys wanted to do it. They approached me saying they wanted to participate in the science bowl, so it was all student driven,” said Scrivo. “Honestly, I just supply the food and the questions and I’ve made t-shirts, that’s really what I’ve done. The kids have done all of the leg work themselves.”

“We all like science,” quipped Davis.

“And we’re all kind of competitive at times,” added Freedman.

“Team Nerdy,” as they proudly call themselves – they even have t-shirts that say that using the periodic table of elements – practices every Wednesday after school for an hour, sometimes longer, preparing for Saturday’s competition. While the students are focused on winning, they’re also appreciative of the friendships that blossomed through their mutual interests in science.  

“I really like that we all just got to know each other,” said Hachenski. “There are not a lot of opportunities for seventh and eighth graders to combine.”

The team over at Ballston Spa Middle School, however, isn’t new to the Science Bowl. Ballston Spa has sent a team to regionals every year for the past decade, at least.

Coached by sixth grade science teacher Hilary Northrup and a volunteer of 9 years, Roberta Nahill, the Ballston Spa team consists of seven students: Paige Crouther, eighth grade; Ethan  Tabachneck, eighth grade; Tommy Anderson, eighth grade; Natalie DiStefano, seventh grade; Caitlin Doyle, seventh grade; Kiana Pearson, seventh grade; and Renee Madcharo, seventh grade.

“The kids have been incredibly motivated this year,” said Nahill. “We have a very bright and vivacious group, so we’re pretty confident that we should make a good showing.”

“They are so smart,” added Northrup. “They really put in 110 percent and that’s motivating for a teacher.”

“We’re like a big, science bowl family,” said Madcharo.

With an almost even mix of seventh and eighth graders, the team agrees everyone brings their individual strengths. The team recently finished its entry for the electric car competition, a featured event for middle school teams at the science bowl. The electric car competition invites students to design, build, and race battery-powered model cars, testing the creative engineering skills of the participating teams.

There’s no question the Ballston Spa team is confident in their entry.

“We’re looking forward to a first place trophy,” said Anderson.


In 1991, some 500 high school students vied to become the first NSB National Champions. Today, the NSB draws more than 14,000 middle- and high-school competitors. Approximately 240,000 students have faced off in the NSB Finals since that first competition. 

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