Praneel Avula, from left, Harshtha Chander and Heidi Leonard from Liberty Middle School advanced to the quarterfinals of the National Science Bee in Arlington, Va. CONTRIBUTED

Liberty students show tech aptitudes at National Science Bee

MADISON – After competing in regional competition in April, nine students from Liberty Middle School qualified for the National Science Bee in Arlington, Va. on June 1-4.

“The National Science Bee is an in-person quiz competition against students of their same age group,” Dr. Lori Shrode said. The quiz format can be compared to the flow of the game show, “Jeopardy!”

Shrode sponsors the Liberty Science Bee and teaches Medical Detectives and Life Science classes. She is a National Board Certified Teacher.

The national bee has four preliminary rounds in which students compete to earn points by answering questions in an individual quiz competition. Students with the highest scores in the four rounds then advance to the playoffs round; the points are erased.

Students compete in knockout rounds, which include quarterfinals, semifinals and finals, to determine the national champion.

Of the nine qualifying students, seven students attended the National Science Bee. These students are Prahaas Avula, Praneel Avula, Harshtha Chander, Nikhita Katragadda, Heidi Leonard, Ananya Shankar and Chandana Suru.

The National Science Bee competition begins with a qualifying test. Shrode proctored an online test for all students who wanted in this program. (Proctoring involves an official watching individuals during an exam.)

The qualifying exam ensures that students competing in regional, state or international competitions have a strong science background. Students who met the predetermined qualifying score for the test advanced to a regional bee.

Each age division had at least 150 students from all over the United States competing in the competition. Students earned points by answering questions in the first four rounds of the competition.

The top 48 performers advanced to the quarterfinals. From Liberty, Praneel Avula, Heidi Leonard and Harshtha Chander advanced to the quarterfinals.

These Liberty students achieved good standings in the results of the quarterfinals:

* Praneel Avula, an eighth-grader, reached quarterfinals and placed 20 out of the total 153 competitors in his grade. Praneel missed the semifinals spot by one point.

* Heidi Leonard competed as a seventh-grader and reached quarterfinals by placing 19 out of 166 competitors in her grade.

* Harstha Chander, who competed as a seventh-grader, reached quarterfinals and placed 45 out of 166 competitors in her grade.

In addition to the National Science Bee, individual test competitions were conducted at this event. Heidi Leonard competed in the National Biology Exam and placed fifth overall in that exam competition.

“I was very pleased with student performance since this was our first year competing,” Shrode said. “Our parents played a big role in student success leading study sessions in their homes on the weekends.”

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