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Latino Daily News

Monday April 23, 2012

Five Puerto Rican High School Students Prepare for National Science Bowl

Five students from Notre Dame High School in the San Juan suburb of Caguas will travel to Washington this week to represent Puerto Rico in the National Science Bowl.

The competition, which is attended by more than 5,000 students and is organized by the U.S. Department of Energy, focuses on questions in biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, earth sciences and astronomy.

The concept of the contest is the same one behind the television program “Jeopardy,” in which a master of ceremonies poses questions to the contestants and they have to answer as quickly as possible.

Sergio Falcon, Gabriel Pacheco, Diomedes Dieppa, Jeancarlos Velez and Sebastian Santiago comprise the group that will represent Puerto Rico at the event.

The students were able to qualify Puerto Rico for the competition after winning the regional contests.

The 17-year-old Falcon, who will compete in the area of chemistry, explained in an interview with Efe that since last summer he and his teammates have been studying and taking advanced courses to prepare themselves for the Science Bowl.

“It’s just like all year, but we like it and we don’t stop studying. We’re fanatics about science, but that’s normal,” Falcon said.

The aspiring scientist, who hopes to attend MIT, emphasized that winning the competition “is the goal I’ve been seeking for all of high school.”

He said that his interest in participating in the Science Bowl started four years ago when he entered high school and saw that other students had been in contests and he wanted to do the same.

He also said that the decision to divide the science categories among the team members was made because of the specific knowledge of each of them.

Falcon is also a member of his school’s robotics team, which has distinguished itself in competitions with other institutions in Puerto Rico.

Meanwhile, Pacheco, will compete in the area of energy, where he will be asked questions about the different types of energy or about the motors used by various machines.

Also, Dieppa will compete in earth sciences and astronomy, Santiago in physics and Velez in biology.

The first edition of the National Science Bowl was held in 1991 as a way to motivate students to improve their academic standings in the sciences and thus get them on the road to attending college.

The Science Bowl is the only science competition in the United States that is supported by a federal agency.