Bartels’ Science Bowl team finishes just short of finals

January 31, 2017 GMT

Bartels Middle School placed fourth out of 17 teams in Wisconsin Regional Science Bowl competition this past weekend, just one question short of advancing to the finals.

The school’s team of four, plus two alternates, outperformed several bigger schools on its way to the semifinals at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the team’s coach Cody Mayne said. “It was amazing. We had quite a few parents and fans there, and it was awesome to see.”

“We had a chance there at the end to go all the way.”

The school lost in the semifinals “at the last second” to Eisenhower Middle School of New Berlin, which had teams finish second and third in the competition.

Participating for Portage were eighth-graders Alex Schlinkert and Rocco Augustine and the seventh-grade, brother-sister duo of Jacob and Macy Goldthorpe. Alternates this year were Jack Callen (seventh grade) and Riley Wood (seventh).

The school’s success, Mayne believed, came down to its diverse talents. The eighth-graders were astute in math, while the Goldthorpes specialized in science. The team, for example, won one of its matches in the final seconds when Rocco answered correctly a short-answer math question.

“Some teams were great at math, some at science, but we had a good mix of all,” said Mayne, a geography and math teacher at the school. The whole experience was “not what I expected,” he added, noting that several of the university’s science majors who helped judge the competition also shared their studies with the young students.

“One student was working on pancreatic cancer research,” Mayne said, “and their level of research just amazed these kids, showing them what they can do with science. Our kids were really excited about learning science and math. I have a coaching background and have seen nothing like this. They were inspired to want to go further with their education.”

Mayne was so impressed by the event that he hopes the school will field more teams at the Science Bowl next year. Pulling that off will come down to finding more students, alternates and chaperones.

“What I took away from it, is next year I want to show this as much as possible,” Mayne said. “Me not knowing what I’d expect, I really think if other students saw this and would go with us, they’d change their opinion about how it can actually be fun, and how it’s something they’re interested in.

“I never expected to be as nervous as I was, with my heart beating, but we were there at the last second, we were high-fiving -- it was awesome.”

Finishing in first place this year and advancing to nationals, to be held in Washington, D.C., was Jefferson Middle School’s Team One.