National Science Bowl is coming to Provo.
“It might not seem like a big deal, but outside of Utah it is,” said Melinda Camacho, a parent of a student who attends Timpview High School in Provo and a parent who has worked to get Utah its first National Science Bowl competition.
Utah has traditionally been one of two states that don’t host National Science Bowl competitions, which bring high school students together to answer quick-paced questions.
Camacho went about organizing Utah’s first competition after her family moved from New Mexico to Utah and noticed the state didn’t do the National Science Bowl. While the competition wouldn’t have been a deciding factor on if they moved, she said her family questioned if their children were losing opportunities for jobs or to get into Ivy League colleges.
Timpview High School’s National Science Bowl team has risen to include about 20 students since Camacho’s family arrived in the summer of 2017, doubling every year.
Camacho said the science bowl competitions give students the opportunity to meet others who are interested in the same topics and gets them connected with career opportunities. Just like how athletic competitions reinforce physical skills, Camacho said the science bowl tournaments test students on what they learn in the classroom.
“It really intrinsically encourages motivation to study science and math,” she said.
Sally Farrell saw her son dive into biology and chemistry after he joined Timpview High School’s science bowl team. Farrell, one of the parent organizers, watched as her son began checking out books on biochemistry from the library and studying to learn more. He entered high school invested in math, and is now interested in science, as well.
“He has really found it has been formative for him in terms of his career aspirations,” Farrell said.
Stephanie Argyle, one of the parent organizers, said the National Science Bowl gives a different type of experience than science fair competitions. Argyle said science bowl is less of a time commitment, only includes one competition a year and helps students to learn from a broad area.
“It is a way to reinforce everything they have learned,” she said.
The program requires a teacher to act as an advisor, but Argyle said the teacher doesn’t have to lead a science bowl class. At Timpview High School, students meet once a month during lunch and independently go through a database of old questions. As a school’s program ages, students begin taking on leadership positions and mentor their younger peers.
While Timpview High School’s Nov. 2 National Science Bowl competition won’t be an official, regional event, its organizing group said it will be Utah’s first science bowl tournament. Utah teams previously had to travel to Idaho or Nevada to attend a competition.
Even if few schools end up attending, Farrell said it’s enough for the first year’s tournament to be a stepping stone for larger ones in the future.
“I think in just our small little sphere we are trying to contribute to the larger creation of momentum for STEM in our state,” she said.