HELMSBURG — Helmsburg Elementary fourth-graders Conner Henderson and Julia Burt stood in front of classmates in the school’s gymnasium with a folder in their hands.
They opened it and began to unfurl a long, blue paper ribbon. It read: “State Champs 2016.”
“The second me and Julia unfolded it, everybody that was sitting down literally jumped out of their seats and started screaming,” Conner said.
The Science Bowl team brought home a second state championship — over all other fourth-grade teams in the state. They scored 89.5 points to runner-up team Fishers’ Hoosier Road Elementary at 85.5.
Teammate Jakob Prairie had just finished participating in the school’s Geography Bee when the announcement was made.
“Science Bowl was always my dream to do. I’ve always wanted to do it overall. My reaction to it when it happened, I actually wanted to do a back flip,” he said.
Fourth-grade science teacher and Science Bowl coach Brenda Ely was also surprised by the win.
A family member fell ill while the team was preparing for competition, so Ely wasn’t able to have as many after-school practices as she had hoped.
“They did great. I was worried because I didn’t feel like that I, right there and then, had time to really, adequately prepare them, but I think they thought it was pretty easy,” Ely said.
The practice was Brady Bond’s favorite part. “We made a candy cell with Jell-O and a bunch of candy. Then we got to eat it and watch a science movie,” he said.
Students competed at the end of January, focusing on life sciences, including cell functions and food chains.
Questions were based on fifth-, sixth- and seventh-grade life science standards, Ely said.
The competition was all online and included individual questioning, group questioning and an experiment involving eggs and osmosis.
Julia, Conner, Savannah Poling and Ally Hash answered individual questions on behalf of their team.
Ally also read the questions for the group to answer together and Savannah worked the computer.
Collin Moore was the “boss” and helped organize the group’s responses.
For the experiment, the team soaked eggs in a sugar solution for 24 hours and 48 hours. They measured the mass of the eggs, collected the data, graphed it and analyzed it, Ely said.
Osmosis is a biological process that causes a liquid, like water, to pass through the wall of a living cell, like an egg.
“It was really interesting. We soaked them overnight then we had to take the whole shell off. It was pretty crazy,” Jakob said.
Most tried out for the team because they love science and because last year’s winning team told them how awesome Science Bowl was.
“I like science and I was trying to do every single bowl,” Conner said of his decision to join.
Out of the 11 team members, five said they want to work in the science field when they grow up.
Julia joined the team because she wants to be an animal scientist.
Jakob wants to be a biochemist. Savannah, Aubrey Harden and Anna Tipton want to be marine biologists.
Would the team recommend Science Bowl to next year’s fourth-graders? The unanimous answer was yes.
“I hope it will be a three-in-a-row win,” Brady said.
Members of the state championship Science Bowl team at Helmsburg Elementary School: Ally Hash, Conner Henderson, Brady Bond, Landen Swafford, Aubrey Harden, Jakob Prairie, Julia Burt, Anna Tipton, Lilly Voils, Savannah Poling, Collin Moore
More Brown County Schools students are earning recognition for their work in science.
Brown County students won 16 out of the 18 first-place category awards at the South Central Indiana Engineering and Science Fair March 5 — in behavior, chemistry, computer science, environmental science, genetics and physics.
Twenty students from the fourth through 12th grades are now moving on to the state competition, the Hoosier Science and Engineering Fair, April 2 at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.
“We anticipate that several of them will do very well at the state competition as well,” said Superintendent David Shaffer. “However, our students are demonstrating a high level of understanding with their science fair projects, and that is the true value of their experience.”
Students advancing to the state competition are:
Fourth grade: Amelia Shirley and Lexie Austin (Van Buren Elementary)
Fifth grade: Josh Clegg, Chase Austin and Savannah Oden
Sixth grade: Josh Miller and Austen Deckard
Brown County Junior High School: Tanner Bowman and Delaney Hobbs
Brown County High School: Gabi Bathards, Chase Watson, Chris Leavit, Corey Cagle, Jadan Ercoli/Abe Oliver, Logan Fittz/Brennan Hobbs, Bailee Robison and Molly Snyder
Van Buren Elementary School’s Science Bowl team placed 10th in the state competition with 73 points.