Five students from a local school who were runner’s up last year are now first place winners of a national science competition.
Middle school students Saranesh Prembabu, Ayush Rath, Augustine Chemparathy, Rishi Krishnan, Ladislav Steffko of won the Department of Energy’s National Science Bowl.
The five eighth graders won the competition by beating Shahala Middle School from Vancouver, Wash., in a sort of a scientific "spelling bee."
They won $1,000 for the school, new equipment for the science classroom and top of the line Texas Instrument scientific calculators, not to mention a big trophy to display at the school.
The Gale Ranch team has been competing for three years now and competed this year against over 14,000 students from across the U.S. and its territories.
“I’m absolutely excited it about this,” said the student’s science teacher, Christy Tyler. “It really helps one realize why I became a teacher and it’s an inspiration to me, the students, the school the staff. This couldn’t have happened to a better crew.”
Tyler said that the students had to learn middle school and high school level science and become experts in subjects like astronomy, climate and energy, earth science, chemistry, physics, biology, ecology and anatomy.
To do this the group studied ten or more hours a week for the last three years with help from Tyler and parent coach George Chemparathy.
They were so dedicated to winning that everyone in the group brought science books to school and studied every chance they got, including breaks and lunches, said Tyler.
But it all paid off when the students won the regional competition at the Ames Research Center this year.
That gave them an all expense paid trip to compete in this, the 21st annual National Science Bowl in Washington D.C.
Every one of the students had been here before however, because they had gone all the way to nationals last year only to come home one spot shy of first place.
This year the team excelled at the five-day event, going from one competition to another including a 12-hour competition day that started in the early morning and didn’t end until 7:30 on Saturday night.
Altogether the young group competed against 41 other middle schools from around the country, and only a small fraction of them were public schools like Gale Ranch.
Because the competing students are all in eighth grade and heading to Valley High School next year, this was the final year of eligibility for them at the prestigious science competition.
Tyler said that they should be proud of the way that they finished strong and that their commitment helps drive home the importance of a good education and helps show other kids that it’s, “OK to be really good at school.”
“They should know that they had an impact on me [too] and my teaching and I’ll remember them forever,” Tyler also said.
Tyler said she is sad to see them go but she’s also happy because they promised to come back and help coach the next generation super science team at Gale Ranch.
The coaches for the competing teams across the country are also happy.
“At the regionals after we won every single coach came up and asked what grades our team members were in,” said Tyler. When I told them they were all in eighth grade, they said, ‘good we have a chance next year.'”