In Jeff Lepore’s science classroom are a future mechanical engineer, a future crop geneticist, a future marine biologist.

There are also 16 state champions.

The sixth-grade team at Brown County Intermediate School won the state Science Bowl against 22 other schools, scoring 93.5 points over second-place Greencastle Middle School, at 92 points.

The competition covered physical and chemical change. Four students completed individual tests and then the group completed two more, including one with questions about an experiment.

Lepore said it was “mind-boggling” watching the team solve the problems in the online competition Jan. 24.

“They were all involved. It wasn’t just a few. Every one of them, they had their say,” he said.

“You get a good feeling because you know these kids are working hard and they’re trying. I saw the cooperation and the discussion. I was just thrilled.”

The team had begun practicing in November, twice a week.

Of the 16 team members, four had been state champions before with Brenda Ely’s Helmsburg Elementary fourth-grade Science Bowl team.

Lepore announced the results by having the kids enter his classroom, face the back of the room and turn around to see a message projected on the wall.

Lizzie Roush said she thought they’d done well, but not that well. “It surprised me a little bit and made me feel a little bit dumb that I didn’t think we might do that,” she said.

Roush said she enjoys Science Bowl because it advances her knowledge past the sixth-grade science curriculum.

Olivia Tincher, another Helmsburg team alumna, said she felt good about the team settling on the answers without any real discussion. They were confident.

For most students, the chemical reaction experiment was their favorite part.

“I like taking everyday objects that you wouldn’t think to put together, like vinegar and washing soda, and seeing, ‘Oh, I shouldn’t do that,’” Marley Wall said.

Brock Bragg decided to try out for the team because he’s already thinking about college applications.

Lepore said not everyone made the team; he had to turn down 30 to 40 other kids who also took the qualifying test.

“I was glad to make it, because a lot of kids in my class were wanting to try out and they were like, ‘Oh, you made it! So cool!’” said Charlie Schultz, who was on Van Buren’s team in fourth grade.

Winning a Science Bowl championship was on Lepore’s “bucket list.” He’s coached the team for five years.

“I was ecstatic because these kids worked hard. To be the state champion and all the work we put in, it was just worth it.”

Science Bowl results

The Brown County Intermediate School sixth-grade Science Bowl team wasn’t the only one to do well.

Helmsburg Elementary School’s fourth-grade Science Bowl team was runner-up in the state, over 18 other Indiana schools.

Team members are: Tommy Buccos, Landon Scott, Oliver Tedford, Jade Woolems, Henry Fleetwood, Jaxson Hayworth, Adah Gredy, Carley Trapp, Olivia Whitehorn, Avri Vaught, Trevor Shields, Maya Huber and Marina Scardina

The BCIS fifth-grade team placed sixth in their division.

Sprunica and Van Buren elementary schools also competed in the same division as Helmsburg. Sprunica placed 11th and Van Buren placed 18th.

Are you smarter than a sixth-grader?

Without the help of Google, can you answer the following practice questions for the sixth-grade Science Bowl competition?

1. Which term best describes the change: When two solutions are mixed, their temperature increases.

A. Exothermic

B. Endothermic

2. Choose the best term to describe the property or change: Reacts with acid.

A. Chemical

B. Physical

3. Choose the best term to describe the property or change: A piece of notebook paper is torn into many pieces.

A. Chemical

B. Physical

4. Choose the best term to describe the property or change: You blow-dry your wet hair.

A. Chemical

B. Physical

5. In a solution, the part that is present in the least amount is called the:

A. Solute

B. Reactant

C. Product

D. Solvent

6. In one experiment, 12.0 g of solute was placed in 100.0 mL of water with a density of 1.0 g/mL. The solution was stirred until the solute dissolved in the solvent. What was the final mass of the solution?

A. Slightly less than 112.0 g

B. Slightly more than 112.0 g

C. Exactly at 112.0 g

D. No correct answer is given


1. A

2. A

3. B

4. B

5. A

6. C

Source: Indiana Association of School Principals

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Suzannah Couch grew up in Brown County, reading the Brown County Democrat. A 2013 Franklin College graduate, she covers business, cops/courts, education and arts/entertainment.