South Laurel school in Science Bowl finals
Montpelier Elementary makes dramatic semi-final comeback after topping crosstown rival Scotchtown Hills
Leah L. Jones/The Gazette
South Laurel's Montpelier Elementary School defeated Scotchtown Hills Elementary School and Hyattsville Elementary School to advance to the finals of the televised Science Bowl.
Celebrating its 23rd season this year, Science Bowl host Dave Zahren quizzes elementary and middle school students from across Prince George's County in six different categories, such as "Science Potpourri," which include any science-related topic, and "Body Systems," on the human body.
Montpelier came into Tuesday's third-round semi-final elimination match at the Bonnie F. Johns Educational Media Center in Landover with a bye because of last year's quarterfinal appearance. Laurel's Scotchtown Hills defeated Landover's Highland Park Elementary on Dec. 2. Although tied at 90 points after the first round, Montpelier went on a 70-plus point run to win the match 205-100.
Scotchtown Hills brought three students: sixth-grader Janae Waugh was the team captain, along with sixth-grader Michel Aka and fifth-grader Josh Young, all 11. Montpelier Elementary's team consisted of sixth-graders Caroline Campbell, 11; Onyinye Okudoh, 12; and captain Josh Carter, 12, while fifth-graders Ashley Woodall, 11, and Tomiwa Oiewole, 11, served as alternates.
Scotchtown Hills coach and fourth-grade teacher Jessica Holt said the team started practicing in October and has been practicing every Tuesday and Thursday during lunch.
"Twice a week we answered questions from [the show and board game] Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?'" Janae said.
"We also read National Geographic and science textbooks," Michel added.
Montpelier Science Bowl coach Bella Clamage said the team had been practicing once a week after school since September.
"We watched other games, we did research on our own, and played against each other," Carter said.
Montpelier's Onyinye was the key to the school pulling ahead in the second half thanks to timely responses to questions like the name of the toxic chemical – mercury – inside compact fluorescent light bulbs.
In the next game, Montpelier faced off against Hyattsville Elementary students, who had defeated Upper Marlboro's Mattaponi Elementary School earlier on Tuesday.
After being down by more than 100 points at halftime, Montpelier rallied to win, 250-200, by answering the last question "What was the volcanic ring Mount Redoubt in southern Alaska was a part of?" correctly.
"Carter answered the Pacific Ring of Fire almost immediately," host Zahren said. "They came out of nowhere."
Montpelier, which has never won the competition, joins College Park's Hollywood Elementary as one of the four finalists. Eight other schools are competing for the final spots.
The bout between Scotchtown Hills and Montpelier will be aired from April 13 through April 19 on Comcast Cable Channel 96 and Verizon Cable Channel 38. Montpelier's victory over Hyattsville will be aired from May 4 through May 10.
E-mail Timmy Gelles at email@example.com.