When Principal Trent Austin announced on the intercom that the sixth-grade Science Bowl team had won the state competition for the second year in a row, screams could be heard throughout the school.

This was the first time some Brown County Intermediate students had been part of a winning team.

“I was kind of overwhelmed because I’ve never actually gotten first place before in a club,” said Lynsey Summers.

Braxton Winton recently moved to Brown County and this was the first year he had ever done an after-school activity. About the win, “I told all my friends that I knew who didn’t go to this school,” he said.

Cord Smith was in Mandy Austin’s science class when teacher Chris Miller came to tell her the news. Smith overheard and began jumping up and down, he said.

The news then began to make its way through the school before Trent Austin was able to make the announcement.

It was exciting, nonetheless. “We shared the fifth-grade results. They did pretty well, too. They finished in seventh place in the state,” he said.

“You could hear all through the hallway, kids yelling and being excited. The kids being congratulated by their classmates, that was really cool,” Mandy Austin said.

Seven of the team members this year were also on the fifth-grade Science Bowl team, which placed sixth in the state competition last year.

The sixth-grade team has students who dream of being a microbiologist, a biochemical engineer, an astrophysicist, an astrobiologist and engineers.

“It feels extraordinary,” Will Hiatt said of the win. “I’ve never really been in like any sort of club, like Braxton, and never won before.”

This was Mandy Austin’s first time coaching a sixth-grade team. When she was a teacher at Van Buren Elementary School she coached the fourth-grade Science Bowl team.

Last year’s BCIS sixth-grade team was coached by now-retired teacher Jeff Lepore. Students try out to be on the team. This year, 25 students tried out and 15 were selected, Mandy Austin said.

“This is my probably my fifth or sixth year of coaching a Science Bowl team. I’ve always had a top-10 team but never first place.

“To be able to say that we’re part of that group now, that’s pretty exciting.”

Students met after school once a week to practice. “I think they did great. They worked well together. They really spent time quizzing and studying the material,” Mandy Austin said.

The Indiana Association of School Principals partners with Purdue University to develop the Science Bowl competition for elementary students. Students take three rounds of questions, all online.

The team worked together to answer questions about earth and atmospheric science, including weather, then answered questions about an in-class experiment on heat transfers in water, soil and sand.

“It focused mainly on conduction, convection and radiation,” Mandy Austin said.

The standards the students studied are based on Indiana 2010 science standards for grades five, six and seven.

“They put a lot of work into it,” Mandy Austin said. “They’re learning new science material beyond all of their school work just for this year. That’s pretty impressive that they do that.”

The team voted for Will Hiatt and triplets Livie Austin, Lexie Austin and Clay Austin to answer individual questions.

Livie Austin’s favorite part was the individual question round. “I was a little nervous, but after I read the questions it wasn’t actually that bad,” she said.

“It was a little nervewracking. They picked me, I wanted to do well,” Lexie Austin said.

Teammate Kyley Berger said she enjoyed the part when the team had to work together for about 15 minutes to figure out the answer to one question.

Once the competition was complete, the team was able to see they had scored 82 points, but they didn’t know how that measured up to other schools in their division.

“We had to wait a whole weekend because that was on a Friday,” Mandy Austin said.

St. Philip Catholic School from Mount Vernon finished second behind BCIS with a score of 78.

Though Mandy and Trent Austin had three children on the team, she said she didn’t encourage extra Science Bowl practice at home. “I might have said, ‘Have you practiced?’ But no extra pressure. I’ve had them on my team before,” she said.

Their oldest son, Chase, was on the winning Science and Math Bowl teams last year. “It’s fun when the triplets get to say, ‘We’re state champions too now, Chase,’” Mandy Austin said.

“When the kids went home and shared their success story with big brother he reminded them that he was not only science, but also math state champion,” Trent Austin said with a laugh.

The couple is proud of the entire team’s performance. The team will receive a plaque and first-place ribbons.

“They worked super hard, very committed, used a lot of their own personal time to be a part of this team and it paid off,” Trent Austin said.

“The potential is there for our fifth-graders to also win the state title. If we can go three out of three, that would be phenomenal.”

Brown County Intermediate sixth-grade School Science Bowl team

The Brown County Intermediate School sixth-grade Science Bowl team has won the Indiana Academic Competition Science Bowl in their division. They beat Mount Vernon’s St. Philip Catholic School by four points.

Team members are Clay Austin, Livie Austin, Lexie Austin, Will Hiatt, Ally Hiatt, Skyla Lipscomb, Olivia Hawkins, Lynsey Summers, Kristen West, Kyley Berger, Julia Burt, Clare Endris, Braxton Winton, Carter Condon and Cord Smith.

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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.