Malmstrom family member contributes to CMR Science Bowl regional championship title

  • Published
  • By Valerie Mullett
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs Office
The C.M.Russel High School Science Bowl team captured first place at the annual Science Bowl competition Feb. 20 in Billings, Mont. One of the team members, junior Garrett Brainard, is a military family member, son of Maj. Warren Brainard, 341st Missile Security Forces Squadron commander, and his wife, Kelley.

The event is sponsored each year by the Department of Energy and the winning team now advances to the National competition April 29 to May 4 in Washington, D.C. The DoE is paying for the CMR students to attend the event.

The win at regionals meant a lot to the team, who, according to Garrett, spent many hours preparing for the competition.

"We had team practices on Mondays and Fridays after school for a couple of months," he said. "We competed against each other to get used to the buzzers and we studied a lot of science. I studied at home, as well."

The competition has been compared to the popular knowledge-testing game show, Jeopardy. But the subject areas are the same every year: astronomy, biology, chemistry, earth science, mathematics and physics.

"Each person has a buzzer and the first person to press their buzzer gets to answer the question for his or her team," the 17-year-old said. "If you are correct, your team gets four points and a bonus question that is worth 10 points."

The team is then given 20 seconds to confer at which time the team captain has to provide an answer to the bonus question for their group. A correct answer adds the extra points; an incorrect answer gives the other team a chance to get it right, he explained. Bonus points transfer to whomever answers correctly. In the event no team has the right answer, the competition moves on to the next question.

Sounds easy enough, but add to the mix seven pages of strict rules to follow.
Garrett summed up the requirements as:

 Each team consists of four players, with the option of a fifth alternate rotating in and out. Only four students play at a time.

 You can only rotate a player in at the halves and you can only switch captains at the halves.

 Only the five students who competed and won at regionals can compete at nationals. No new team members can be added or substituted.

 Students must be in grades 9 - 12.

 Questions are read only once.

 For toss-up questions, the person who buzzes in is the only one who can answer. No conferring with team mates is allowed. Time limit is five seconds.

 For bonus questions, only the team captain can answer the question on behalf of the team.

 There are two 8-minute halves with a 2-minute break in between.

When asked what a sample of some of the questions were, Garrett couldn't recall any one that stood out, simply saying, "There were so many questions that I honestly can't remember any specific one."

He did say as the day progressed, questions became more difficult.

"They were trying to weed out the weaker teams," he said.

"The students are extraordinary," said Karen Radzykewycz, coordinator for the event and a member of the DoE. "The questions these kids got were phenomenal. When you get into later rounds, these kids were answering graduate level questions."

Garrett said he has been "infatuated with science all of his life - it is his favorite subject in school."

Besides his studies, he is also interested in football and track and has played guitar for six years.

As for the future, Garrett has relocated to the Colorado Springs area for the remainder of the school year and his senior year next year. He would like to first and foremost, win at Nationals. But after high school, he aspires to attend MIT and double major in engineering and "some sort of science."

If that doesn't work out for him, he is also considering the Air Force Academy, Stanford , UC Davis and "a few others as back-ups."

The other members of the C.M. Russell High School Science Bowl team are senior captain Kaitlyn Carlson, Chris Perkins, Ryan Thomas and Tasha Heryla.