Vansville takes first step into semifinals after beating District Heights -- Gazette.Net


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After only three years of competing in the Prince George’s County Science Bowl, Vansville Elementary School students’ science knowledge and teamwork is bringing them to the semifinals as the team that beat Mount Rainier and District Heights, which have been recurring competitors, in two head-to-head matchups Tuesday.

The county school system’s Science Bowl, in its 27th year, is a “Jeopardy”-style game show circuit held from October through December that pairs participating school teams against each other to answer science-related trivia questions. Questions in the game are found in five categories relating to science and are worth between five and 25 points. Each matchup is filmed at the Bonnie F. Johns Educational Media Center in Landover and then aired on Comcast Channel 96.

Vansville is still a rising participant of the Science Bowl, as it only opened in 2007 in Beltsville and became the county’s first “green school,” meaning it is nationally recognized as being environmentally friendly, with geothermal heating and cooling, large windows and water-efficient toilets, which may have fostered specific science knowledge among the students, said host Dave Zahren during the game.

Vansville’s Science Bowl team leader, fifth-grader Samantha Bailor, 10, of Beltsville, shared that accolade while on the game show, showing what Zahren called “great poise.”

“Samantha was terrific. She was great at listening for clues. I think Samantha also took good advice from teammates before she would give the answers,” Zahren said, recalling the teamwork between her and fifth-graders Brendon Blackson, 11, of Laurel and Arya Pawar, 10, of Beltsville. He said this is Vansville’s first time advancing to the semifinal rounds.

Vansville’s first matchup Tuesday was against Mount Rainier, where they answered questions about pupils, coffee beans and a solar eclipse in Australia to earn a 210 to 165 point victory.

The Mount Rainier students playing were sixth-graders Angel Vera-Mendez, 11, of Brentwood; Avery Alexander, 11, of Mount Rainier; and Carina Azuine, 11, of Brentwood.

Vansville’s next match was against District Heights, which narrowly beat Brandywine Elementary School’s team earlier in the day with a final score of 215 to 200.

The Brandywine team consisted of fifth-graders Tyler Thomas, 10; Darius Lassiter, 10; and Indigo Emanuel, 10, all of Brandywine.

District Heights’ team lost to Vansville 310 to 120 after questions dealing with vitamin D, color blindness and thermometers, but the students still said they enjoyed the experience.

“I liked that it was challenging. There were a lot of challenging players,” said District Heights fifth-grader Devonte Duncan, 10, of District Heights. “[Science] helps me learn more about the world around me.”

Competing on Duncan’s team was fifth-grader Kyasia Waddy, 10, and sixth-grader Katherine Mejicanos, 11, both of District Heights.

Students on the Vansville team said they are already preparing for the semifinal matchup with Rosaryville Elementary School in Upper Marlboro on Feb. 5.

“This was fun. I was nervous at first, but at the end we loosened up,” Brendon said. “I like that this is hands-on and interactive.”

Brendon and his teammates said they prepared by watching previous years’ Science Bowl competitions and even practiced using a buzzer to signify when they know the answer. In terms of how to prepare for Rosaryville, each of the students on the Vansville team said in unison, “Keep practicing!”

djgross@gazette.net