- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 24, 2002

Here's a biology question for you: What's the most common term for the substance recognized as foreign and able to elicit antibody productions? Stumped? Answer: Antigen.
What's the perimeter of a right triangle whose leg lengths are 6 and 8 and whose hypotenuse is 10? Answer: 24.
Those are two questions students from 23 area high schools eight from the District and 15 from Maryland faced yesterday during the Regional Science Bowl in Southwest.
The brainy activity was sponsored by and held at the Department of Energy building, located on Independence Avenue, to encourage high school students to pursue careers in science and mathematics. The teams fielded questions on biology, chemistry, physics, astronomy, mathematics, computer and general sciences, in hopes of participating in the 12th Anniversary National Science Bowl later this spring.
The national champions win a two-week trip to London to attend the International Youth Science Forum.
Benjamin Banneker Senior High School in Northwest squared off against Washington Mathematics, Science and Technology Public Charter High School in Southwest.
Banneker won the round. But the day was far from over. The school eventually made it to the District finals, as did the National Cathedral, Sidwell Friends and St. Anselm's Abbey schools.
In Maryland, Richard Montgomery High School and Thomas S. Wootton High School in Rockville, Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring and Centennial High School in Ellicott City advanced to their finals.
Banneker's team captain, John Clarke, 18, kept his finger on the answer buzzer and his mind focused on the judge's often lengthy questions against the Southwest charter school. John didn't sweat when the pressure built, as it did when his team had five seconds to answer a mile-long mathematical equation. By his side were three other Banneker brains Alvin Hough, 18, Iheanyi Umez-Eronini, 17, and Andrei Munteanu, 16.
"I've gotten used to the pressure," said the senior who wants to become a lawyer or a diplomat.
Yesterday was his third year at the regional bowl. His interest in educational competition was piqued as a child while watching the popular show, "It's Academic." The show features area high school students who pit their knowledge in different subjects against one another.
"I was impressed by the Benjamin Banneker students [on the show] and I wanted to be like them," he said
Katherine Fulwood,17, a senior and the team captain for Washington Math, Science and Technology Public Charter High School, didn't make any excuses about her team's performance.
"We hadn't studied a broad enough range of subjects. … [The team] didn't get into astronomy a lot, and we just weren't fast enough [on the buzzer]," she said.
Meanwhile, Eleanor Roosevelt High School from Greenbelt pummeled the Academy of Holy Cross from Kensington during first-round competition.
Captain Sam Veihmeyer, 17, described it as a "wipeout." The senior and first-time competitor at the bowl said his team got ahead early and were aggressive. But some questions completely foxed his teammates, and the astronomy queries also got the better of them, he said.
"Some of the questions can be answered before the judge has finished reading the questions. But others are really difficult. I think some of the questions are written by Ph.Ds," Sam said, grabbing some lunch before the competition resumed.
"Last-minute studying made a big difference," he added.
David Myers, Eleanor Roosevelt's coach, said competitions like these endear the sciences to the students, which is the goal underlying the Department of Energy's participation and encouragement.
"This group had an interest [in the sciences] coming into the event. It sparked them to learn a lot of information in preparation for this event. They spent a lot of extra time studying and practicing for the Science Bowl," he said with a smile.


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