A group of home-schooled middle school students from Oak Park and River Forest demonstrated their hard work and brilliance in math and science after placing second in the Feb. 6 Regional U.S Department of Energy National Science Bowl.

Students from Roosevelt Middle School in River Forest were the other local competitors out of a total of 12 teams. Roosevelt Middle School clinched first place.

“We are a group of kids who love science and math, but we never thought our hard work would pay off in such a big way. We gave Roosevelt a run for their money,” says seventh grader Vincent Taglia, the only returning member on the team of home-schooled kids.

Roosevelt has placed first in regionals four consecutive years in a row. This was the second year a group of home-schooled students from Oak Park and River Forest competed.

Roosevelt’s team included eighth graders William Eom, Will Klock, Nick Rohner, seventh grader Emma Sloan and sixth grader Curie Shim. Their coach was Sandra Painter.

In addition to Vincent, the team of home-schooled students included seventh grader Jack Nobers and sixth graders Samuel Detmer, Jane Larson and Sophia Polanco. Vincent’s mother, Anneke Taglia, has been the team’s coach and adviser for two years.

“Traditional teachers teach their students daily in class, so they build their weaknesses into strengths,” says Anneka Taglia, an Oak Parker. “With these guys, it’s just a passion.”

Hosted every year by Argonne National Laboratory, the science bowl includes quiz questions on a variety of subjects, including mathematics, general science, astronomy and physical science. Students get a fast-paced question-and-answer format similar to Jeopardy. Competing teams from diverse backgrounds are made up of four students, one alternate, and a teacher who serves as an adviser and a coach. Double-elimination rounds narrow the competition to a final set of teams fighting for first, second and third place.

Samuel said the Science Bowl requires more than just knowledge.

“While it got intense at times, it was more fun and exciting. We were able to challenge ourselves and go farther in the competition than we thought,” Detmer said.

Twelve teams competed in this year’s Middle School Science Bowl.

The Department of Energy launched its National Science Bowl competition in 1991 to encourage students to explore science and math and to pursue possible careers in those fields. The Department of Energy introduced the National Science Bowl’s competition for middle school students in 2002.

Any current public, private, or home-school is welcome to participate in a regional event.

The group of home-schooled students are already preparing for next year. “We are definitely going to prepare differently and I think next year we will go for the gold,” Captain Vincent Taglia said.

Meanwhile, the countdown has begun for Nationals. Roosevelt Middle School will complete in the national event held April 29-May 4 in Washington, D.C.

Are you smarter than a middle school Science Bowler?

1. MATH: If you walk north for 3 miles along 1st street and make a 90-degree right turn east onto B street and then walk for another 4 miles what would the shortest distance back to where you started, if you could walk in a straight line?

2. LIFE SCIENCE: In human nerves, the nerve impulse or message occurs primarily because of the movement of ions of what two elements across the cell membranes of nerves?

3. PHYSICAL SCIENCE: If light is passed through two pin holes and the patterns are allowed to overlap on a wall, the pattern produced by the intersection of waves is called …

Source: U.S. Department of Energy Science Bowl Web Site.


1) 5 Miles (Solution: 3, 4, 5 right triangle)
2) W
3) X

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