Reflecting on our team’s experience today during the U.S Department of Energy‘s National Science Bowl Electric Car Race, I cannot help but smile be so grateful and honored to be part of such a wonderful experience. The coordinators and volunteers that organize this enormous event went above and beyond to make this entire event enjoyable and meaningful to every single student and coach that participated. From the time and house keepers, to the meal makers and judges, this was the most well organized and welcoming event that I have ever been a part of. Like these cars, this organization ran like a finely tuned machine. Despite there being over 100 middle and high school teams from all over the country, the people here knew us personally, and treated us like welcomed guests.
It was heartwarming to see that the Coordinators took the time to read every single student biography. They welcomed students who mentioned they were singers to sing the National Anthem at the opening of the car races. They even let our own student, JT, talk about his experience as professional car racer in front of the entire crowd. These are experiences that these students will never forget, and it was clear that this competition is much more than just science facts and car races.
This was Allendale Columbia‘s first time winning our Regional competition and advancing to Nationals, we came in having no expectations other than having a good time and watching some amazing schools do some pretty remarkable things. After our design document review Friday night, Allendale Columbia was thrilled to advance to the top 6 design documents. We learned we would have to present in front of the entire Middle School student/coach audience, and in front of judges for a presentation score. A coach couldn’t be more proud to see a group of students take that risk to get up in front of an audience and put their knowledge and work up for review and judgement, especially by their own peers. Watching the other schools was such a valuable learning experience for both my students, but also for me as a coach. I learned how to prepare my students better in the future if we are lucky enough to quality and advance again.
As a coach, what I liked the most about the National Science Bowl National Competition is that it had something for everyone. The academic bowl let students shine in their knowledge, mathematical, and recall skills. The electric car design let students become engineers and showcase their drawing, planning, and team work skill. As for the electric car race, students were able to learn via play, and the energy and enthusiasm coming from these students was real and tangible.
As a coach, I can say that I will walk away from this changed forever. I met some great educators and wonderful students from all over the country. I learned a bit about competition at this incredibly high level, and I learned that I want to come back next year.
The Science Bowl was kind enough to take some great picture of our team; you can see them below.
Nate and JT working on electric car
Allendale Columbia during Academic Competition
The Team during Academic rounds