LIVERMORE -- Students from 16 East Bay schools are sharpening their knowledge and clicker skills in preparation for a regional, Jeopardy-style Science Bowl next week that could earn them a trip to the national competition in April in Washington, DC.

Stanley Middle School's Science Bowl Club in Lafayette is meeting at lunchtime, the Dorris-Eaton School team in Walnut Creek is practicing in the early mornings and the Gale Ranch Middle School team in San Ramon has been studying after school and on weekends for the past year, according to the team's coaches.

The event was created by the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science to get students excited about studying math and science and pursuing careers in those fields.

Gale Ranch Middle School teacher Kent Heckenlively said some students and parents in San Ramon got the team started without his knowledge about three years ago. They won the regional competition on their first try, then won both the regional and national competition two years ago, he said.

"This came about because the community itself is very involved in science and technology," he said, noting that the team also has a parent coach.

Last year, many of the students who were on Gale Ranch's winning team advanced onto the Dougherty Valley High School team, which came in second at the regional high school competition last month, behind first-place Mission San Jose High from Fremont.

Hopkins Junior High from Fremont, which feeds into Mission San Jose High, won the national Middle School Science Bowl last year, said Peter Geschke, who coaches the Mission San Jose High team. The recent successes of both the Fremont and San Ramon middle and high school teams has set up sort of an East Bay rivalry, heightening anticipation before the middle school regional bowl on Feb. 23 at Las Positas College.

Other East Bay schools participating include: Albany Middle School, Diablo Vista Middle School, Joshua Chadbourne Elementary, Gomes Elementary, Stratford School, Challenger School of Ardenwood, Hillview Junior High, Hart Middle School, Canterbury School, Chinese Christian Schools, Windemere Ranch Middle School and Purple Lotus School.

IF YOU GO:

The Regional Middle School Science Bowl is from 9:15 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Feb. 23 in the Las Positas College student center cafeteria, 3000 Campus Hill Drive, Building 1700, Livermore. Winners are expected to be announced by 4:30 p.m.
More information is available by visiting http://science.energy.gov.