Bonham’s science bowl team is pictured, with Josiah Miller seated front, second from left.
“Really?!” exclaims an excited Josiah Miller as he learns of the history he’s now part of at Bonham Middle School. Not only is this the first year both an Amarillo ISD middle school and high school have advanced to the National Science Bowl at the same time, but Josiah is the District’s first middle schooler to compete at the national level, twice.
The Bonham eighth grader and his four “Bonham Blue” teammates, along with a team from Amarillo High School, will board an airplane tomorrow, bound for Washington, D.C and the Department of Energy’s National Science Bowl. “I’m excited,” says Josiah who also advanced to the National Science Bowl with Bonham as a sixth grader. Whether it was fate, happenstance, or just the way it was supposed to be, Josiah’s participation that year was an unusual turn of events.
“We took three teams that year and had one of our upper-level members who couldn’t go. We asked for volunteers from the other teams and Josiah was the only one who threw up his hand and said, ‘I’ll do it,’” says Bonham science teacher, and one of the team’s coaches, Kimberly Irving. That year, Josiah didn’t just step up, he stood out. “We had no idea he was that good,” says Kimberly.
“It’s going to hurt when they leave, but we have formed bonds that won’t be broken when they walk out that door. We’re extraordinarily proud of them. We’ve pushed them really hard and they’ve been able to rise to the standards we’ve set.”
The National Science Bowl is an academic competition that tests students’ knowledge in five categories: life science, physical science, math, earth and space, and energy. Teams compete in regional science bowl tournaments to advance to the national event. The game-show style competition features a question and answer format that requires students to buzz in and answer questions like, “What radioactive element, formed from the decay of U-238, sometimes seeps and collects in well-insulated buildings until it becomes hazardous to human inhabitants and poses the greatest radiation risk to humans in the U.S.?”
The answer is Radon.
To make sure they’re prepared to answer that question and as many others as possible, Josiah and his teammates have been practicing as a team with buzzers and studying on their own. For Josiah, that means spending, “hours and hours watching YouTube science videos.”
When Josiah and team hit the competition floor on Saturday, they’ll be ready. Their goal is to advance to the afternoon round of competition. Though, their coaches are making sure Bonham’s bright bunch is mindful of this momentous adventure. “We really want them to enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime trip,” says Hannah Galbreath, Bonham science teacher, and the team’s other coach. “It’s exciting but very bittersweet.”
Bittersweet, agrees Kimberly, because she and Hannah took on coaching duties when this team was sixth graders. Whether the team advances in Saturday’s competition or not, each of them will advance to high school next fall. “It’s really special. We get to end this together. It’s going to hurt when they leave, but we have formed bonds that won’t be broken when they walk out that door,” she says. “We’re extraordinarily proud of them. We’ve pushed them really hard and they’ve been able to rise to the standards we’ve set.”