WOODSTOCK — What is the most common term in physics for the product of mass times velocity?
If you don’t know the answer, you’re not alone. But you’re also not as smart as an eighth grader, or at least as smart as the five students from Woodstock Middle School who are heading to New Hampshire this weekend to vie for a spot in the 2014 National Science Bowl.
Now in its 24th year, the event — which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy — is designed to encourage the development of future leaders in science and technology and train the next generation of scientists and engineers. More than 225,000 students have participated in the annual event since it was created in 1991.
Woodstock is one of 16 teams from Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire to take part in the regional competition, which will be held Saturday at the Academy for Science and Design in Nashua, N.H. The winner of the regional competition will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. to compete in the National Science Bowl in late April. The winner of the national competition will win prizes for the team members and their schools.
Woodstock’s middle school teams previously won regional competitions in 2006, 2007 and 2009.
The students on the all-eighth-grade team have been training after school two days a week since returning from winter break.
“I’m absolutely amazed by how much these students know,” said Nancy Pejouhy, a math teacher at the school, as well as the team’s coach. “I don’t know where they have learned some of the things they know.”
Pejouhy’s team includes 14-year-old Grace Vollers, of Woodstock, who acknowledged the challenging nature of the material she will face Saturday.
“I haven’t studied a lot of these principles because a lot of this is stuff you see in high school,” said Vollers, as she took a break from reviewing questions from past competitions during practice Wednesday afternoon.
While some of the states in the regional competition — specifically, Massachusetts and New Hampshire — are fielding more than one team, Woodstock’s middle school students comprise the sole team representing Vermont.
“To be honest, it’s always been hard to get teams from Vermont to compete,” said Pejouhy, who was previously the regional coordinator for the National Science Bowl. “I just think it’s really exciting that there are kids here who are so interested in science. This is what we need, is more students who are studying science and math because that’s where the jobs will be in the future.”
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