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FMS team finishes top five in DoE Science Bowl

Students from Farragut Middle School competed in Tennessee’s first U.S. Department of Energy Middle School Science Bowl Saturday, Feb. 5, at the American Museum of Science and Energy.

FMS, the only school with two competing teams, joined the team from Cedar Bluff Middle School as the only other Knox County Schools team to participate. Other teams from West Knoxville and the Farragut area included Cedar Springs Homeschool and Episcopal School of Knoxville.

While neither of the FMS teams (Farragut One and Farragut Two) won, Farragut Two made it all the way to the finals and finished fourth place.

Mary Sue Pruitt, FMS teacher and the teams’ coach, said, “There were two [divisions] and both Farragut teams were on the same side.

“Farragut Two won every single game in the first round. They beat Farragut One, which they had never beaten in practice, and they beat Cedar Bluff.

“Cedar Bluff beat Farragut One, so they had two losses and were out,” he added.

Farragut Two team members were team captain John Hurtz, Melissa Yu, Raaghul Senthilkumar and Liz Enyenihi.

Farragut One team members were team captain Katherine Fu, Kevin Hong, Jason Fu and Daniel Hong.

“We call them the Fu-Hong’s,” Pruitt said. “And it’s funny because none of them are related.”

During the competition Farragut Two was coached by Pruitt, while Katherine’s mother, Rachel Fu, took over the coaching for Farragut One.

When Pruitt heard that Tennessee was going to participate in the competition this year she immediately began preparing to organize a team.

“I compiled questions from previous science bowls that were found on the AMSE website and made a test from them. Whoever made the highest score on the test became part of the team,” she said.

“There were only 12 slots. Each school only had one slot and it was first-come-first-served. If they did not fill up, then they would take your second team. So we formed two teams and we were lucky enough to get another slot,” she added.

Katherine, who is in seventh grade, said she joined the team for fun.

“I like science and it is really fun to compete. Last year I was co-captain of our Energy Bowl team and I thought it was really fun,” she said.

John said he joined more for the challenge.

“This year I decided to push myself a little more academically, taking tests and doing some things that were not required,” he said.

The competition was structured in a round robin tournament format with two divisions for the preliminary round. The top two teams from each division competed in the double elimination tournament.

There were two types of questions: toss-up and bonus. Toss-up questions could be answered by any of the four members of either team. If a team answered the toss-up question correctly, that team was given a bonus question for which the other team was ineligible.

Question categories were Life Science, Mathematics and Physics, Earth Science, Energy Mathematics and General Science.

“The questions were really difficult,” Pruitt said.

“There was such a wide range of question and some were what you would consider really easy and then some of the chemistry questions and the math problems were really difficult.

“The time that they gave to answer the math problems without a calculator was really tight. There were a lot of math questions missed because you were hand calculating things that were pretty extensive, square roots and all kinds of stuff,” she added.


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