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Detroit teens battle in D.C. science bowl

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  • Charles C. Primas
    Monday, April 30, 2007 Detroit teens battle in D.C. science bowl Five students from Renaissance High School are Michigan s only team in national competition.
    Message 1 of 1 , May 1, 2007
      Monday, April 30, 2007

      Detroit teens battle in D.C. science bowl

      Five students from Renaissance High School are Michigan's only team in
      national competition.

      Gordon Trowbridge / Detroit News Washington Bureau


      CHEVY CHASE, Md. -- Here's how Sunday afternoon started for five Detroit
      Renaissance High School students:

      "How many neutrons are in the nucleus of an atom of gold with an atomic
      number of 79 and atomic mass of 197?"

      That kicked off a daylong science competition at the National Science Bowl
      for the team from Renaissance, one of 64 from across the country gathered
      outside the National 4-H Conference Center just outside Washington, D.C.,
      and the only competitors from Michigan. While many Americans enjoyed a quiet
      Sunday, they were immersed in Newton's second law, binomial equations and
      the anatomy of Euglena gracilis.

      "It's incredibly tiring and draining," senior Lenae Wills said during one of
      the team's few breaks during a fast-paced afternoon. The students
      participated in six matches, back-to-back, against top-notch schools, with
      25 questions in each match, on topics ranging from physics to astronomy to
      high-level math.

      In terms of wins and losses, it was tough going: Renaissance, making its
      sixth appearance at the national competition, failed to win any of its first
      six matches. Two more matches were scheduled for Sunday evening, with 32
      teams advancing to the next round.

      "I think they know most of the answers; they're just a little nervous," said
      the team's coach, Ermelda Polk, a science teacher at Renaissance.

      The losses didn't seem to lessen the students' enthusiasm.

      "I feel good just being here," said Christopher Watson, who plans to attend
      Michigan State University next year on the way to a teaching career.

      "A lot of my family and friends never even get to travel out of the state.
      I've had the opportunity to see monuments I only see on TV or on a coin."

      All five students have ambitious college plans. Watson and LaDiamond Stanley
      are headed to MSU; Kiara McCoy and Dijon Richardson are considering
      historically black Howard University in Washington; Wills will attend the
      University of Michigan.

      You can reach Gordon Trowbridge at (202) 662-8738 or


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