Extracurriculars: Science Bowl

By Erin Kang
October 21, 2020 · 3 minute read

We will be continuing our extracurricular series with this week’s article. Our focus will be on the National Science Bowl. The National Science Bowl is a highly competitive scientific event among high school and middle school students. Students compete in a fast-paced forum to solve and answer questions in all branches of science and math.



Competitions for the National Science Bowl are divided into Regionals, Invitational Practice Tournaments, and National Finals. The regional competitions are held throughout the nation and are considered qualifiers for National Finals. The regional competition that your school competes in is based on your school’s state, county, city, or district. A website that includes all the regional competition locations organized by state will be linked below. The regional competition your school is assigned to is the only “qualifier” competition for National Finals. For example, if you choose to compete in a different regional competition than the one your school is assigned, even if you win the competition, you will not qualify for the National Finals. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, all regional competitions are completely virtual for the 2021 competition season. Registration for the regional competition opened on October 1st, 2020. The deadline to register for your regional competition is three weeks before the actual competition.

Regional Registration

Step 1: Find your regional competition location - High School Regional Competition Locations

Step 2: Once you have found your regional competition, ask your coach or sponsor to register the school by creating a coach account. Click here to register.

Step 3: A walkthrough of creating an account and adding teams is linked here - Coach Registration Guide. Approval of teams is on a first-come, first-served basis, so make sure to register quickly.


Each competing team must consist of 4-5 high school students from the same school. No school is allowed to compete in more than one regional competition, and the number of teams that attend a regional competition from any one school is up to the regional director. The winning team from each qualifying regional competition is eligible to be invited to the National Finals. This year, National Finals will be held in the Washington, DC area from April 29th – May 3rd.

Regional Competition Structure

Each competition will be divided into two categories: the Preliminary round and the Elimination Tournament. All regional competitions will have at least two preliminary rounds. Teams will be read the same set of questions, and the teams with the highest point totals will advance to the Elimination Tournament. The number of teams that qualify for the Elimination Tournament is up to the regional competition director. As the regional competitions are going to be completely virtual this year, the competition structure will be a bit different. Each student must join a Zoom meeting with a web camera. Another device must be in the Zoom meeting to show the student’s workspace. These steps must be taken to protect the integrity of the competition. The Elimination Tournament is run in a similar fashion. Each team will be read the same set of toss-up questions. The number of rounds in the Elimination Tournament depends on the number of teams advancing from the preliminary rounds.

A more comprehensive rules manual for regional competitions: 2021 National Science Bowl Official Rules Manual

Invitational Practice Tournament

Schools may host practice tournaments to fundraise for equipment and resources for the club. The following information about an invitational practice tournament is linked below:

  • Tournament format
  • Tournament questions
  • Buzzer systems
  • Tournament staffing

The link below has more information regarding setting up an invitational practice tournament:

Invitational Practice Tournament Information

National Finals

Each team that qualifies for the national tournament travels to Washington D.C to compete for the national title. Teams that qualify arrive on Thursday and have the option to attend educational seminars or sightsee before the academic competition. 

Sample Questions

  1. What is the most common term used in genetics to describe the observable physical characteristics of an organism caused by the expression of a gene or set of genes? PHENOTYPE
  2. An aqueous solution in which the concentration of OH– ions is greater than that of H+ ions is? BASIC
  3. What is the MOST common term for the behavior of light where it appears to bend around small obstacles or the spreading out of waves as light passes through pinholes or slits? DIFFRACTION

Don't worry if you can't answer these questions or have no idea what they even mean. Half of the fun of being a part of a Science Bowl team is the collaborative study and group learning you do through weeks of preparing with your closest friends.

We'll leave you off with the official introductory video from National Science Bowl's YouTube.

Did you enjoy this article?

About The Author

Erin Kang is a senior at James S. Rickards High School and is a part of the Sciteens team. Her hobbies include baking, listening to music, and playing the violin. If you have any questions or future article recommendations, feel free to contact her at erin@sciteens.org.

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