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Lake Highland Students Put Orlando, Florida on National Science Map

A team of middle school students from Orlando won the Regional championship for the 2023 National Science Bowl in March and represented Florida in the national competition from April 27th through May 1st. The U.S. Department of Energy has been hosting the NSB for 30+ years, bringing together thousands of middle and high school students from across the country to compete in a fast-paced question-and-answer format where they solve technical problems and answer questions on a range of science disciplines including biology, chemistry, earth and space sciences, physics, and math.

First time entrants, Lake Highland Preparatory School (LHPS) team, comprising of Ajay Sawant, Mohid Hassan, Pranav Mahendran and Sreenathan Shakamoori, dethroned 3-time reigning champions Abraham Lincoln Middle school to earn the spot to represent Florida at the Nationals. After playing nine rounds of nail-biting buzzer matches with experienced teams, the LHPS team emerged in the elite Top 16 in the Nation and were recognized by Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm for their achievement with an award of $1,000.

“The ultimate prize is the honor of putting Florida on the National Science Map and the experience of a lifetime,” said Ajay Sawant, who is a 7th grader and hoping to have a shot at winning the National Championship in the coming years.

The top two middle and high school teams win $5,000 for their schools’ math and science departments.

“The NSB experience was fun,” said Mohid, the captain of the LHPS team. “It was our school’s first time ever competing and I am proud of landing in the Top 16. We hope to build off this achievement for next year.”

Today, the NSB annually draws more than 14,000 middle and high school competitors. Since the first competition in 1991, approximately 335,000 students have faced off in the National Science Bowl® Finals. The knowledge that former competitors have acquired and, more importantly, the collaborative skills and study habits that they learned along the way have led them to success in a variety of fields. Many have become researchers; others are science and math professors.

“The place was buzzing with so many brilliant minds that we could probably light up the whole building with their energy,” said Anjli Dudani, the LHPS parent coach. “I am overjoyed to connect with so many amazing kids, coaches and parents – we have found our tribe! We are grateful to the DOE for organizing such and awesome event with so much thought going into organizing all the activities for kids and coaches.”

Amongst those moderating the tournaments were National Science Bowl® alumni, whose proven successful careers in STEM are an inspiration for the 2023 competitors to follow in their footsteps and blaze their own trails in science, math, and engineering. Middle and high school student teams came from all across the country: large and small schools, urban and rural settings. Each team is composed of four students, one alternate, and a teacher or parent who serves as an advisor and coach. The competition tests the students on a range of science disciplines including biology, chemistry, Earth science, physics, energy, and math. The Department of Energy Office of Science manages the National Science Bowl® and sponsors the finals competition.

“It was a proud moment to see our kids represent the State of Florida at this prestigious national event sponsored by the Department of Energy and being recognized,” added Dr. Mahendran Jayaraj, one of the LHPS parents. “It was amazing to see the young minds work at lightning speed. Science truly elevates and inspires.”

DOE’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time.

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