Luther students score silver at Science Bowl

Barbara Dykema
Special to The News
Thursday, March 14, 2019
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Photo by Bonnie Moore
Luther students with their trophy at the 22nd annual Big Sky Regional Science Bowl, left to right, Angelina Podkonjak, Helka Olson, Sophia Moore, Brynn Barker, Olivia Heimer

On Friday March 8, two middle school teams from Janis Eckert’s class at Luther School competed in the 22nd annual Big Sky Regional Science Bowl at MSU-B.  

Sponsored by the US Dept. of Energy and Western Area Power Administration, this fast paced quiz format competition challenges student’s knowledge of biology, chemistry, Earth science, physics and math. Although not winning the gold, Luther students did bring home the silver. 

The winning school of Friday’s Big Sky Regional Science Bowl is awarded a trip to the National Science Bowl held in Washington D.C. in late April.  This year’s competition fielded 21 teams from across Montana and one registered team from Wyoming.

Eckert’s class of 6-8th graders have been preparing for the BSRSB since early November.  Coached by Caed Barker, a high school student who will be attending the University of Edinburgh next fall and Barb Dykema, a Luther resident, twelve dedicated students have committed their lunch hours to more science class time consisting of daily “mini-lectures” and practice competitions.   

For the past two years at the Big Sky Regional Science Bowl, the Luther School team was awarded the ‘Civility Award’, an award bestowed on one team as voted by all other teams as “being the most competitive while displaying the highest level of good sportsmanship and honor.”  

The Luther School team was given funding to travel to MSU in Spring of 2017 for a two day Science symposium and last year to the University of Montana in Missoula where they met with NASA astrophysicists and had the opportunity to learn to fly drones on the U of M campus.

This past Friday, after registering in the early hours at MSU-B, the 2019 Big Sky Regional Science Bowl competition began.  Both the 6th grade and 8th grade teams did well in their morning matches.  The 8th grade Science Bowl team strongly won all of their morning matches moving into the afternoon’s double elimination bracket round in second place based on points scored in the morning matches.  Winning two more matches and then losing one bought the team another match to bring them back into the semi-final bracket play.  Winning that match then brought them head to head with the three time Big Sky Regional Science Bowl champions from North Middle School in Great Falls.  

Luther School handily beat North Middle in that final match, but due to double elimination play, the teams had to play again for the winner to officially be determined.  It was the first time North Middle had lost a match that day.  After two rounds, time was up and the two teams were tied.  For the first time ever in BSRSB competition, a tie breaking round was necessary.  Five more questions were given, but due to an interruption on the Great Falls team, points were awarded to Luther School and the two teams ended their tie-breaking match tied once again.  Again, five more questions were given, but this time North Middle prevailed and became the Big Sky Regional Science Bowl champs for the fourth straight year.  Luther School proudly took home the Silver.

“ The final round was heart stopping, the girls maintained their confidence and focus throughout the competition.  We at Luther are so very proud of them.” Eckert related after the day’s competition.  

While photos were being taken of the top three teams, Absarokee taking third place, shouts and cheers from the packed auditorium rang out when Luther School took the stage.  “What Strong Girls!”  “What SMART Girls!” 

Co-Captain Sophia Moore said afterwards “It was so cool to be part of a team with big brains and big hearts”.  Her sentiments were echoed by her Co-Captain Angelina Podkonjak, “The fact that we were able to make it so far, means the world to us and to our little school”.  

What better tribute for these five fine young women’s achievement that they fared so successfully on March 8,  2019, a day honored as International Women’s Day. 



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