Ocean Springs students to represent the state in national science competition

The national competition happens in Washington D.C. this April.
Published: Feb. 9, 2023 at 6:18 PM CST
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OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. (WLOX) - It’s all smiles for a hardworking group of students who recently participated in the Ocean Springs Middle School Science Bowl Competition.

The team of five, which consisted of Gemma Wallis, Jack Lee, Alexis Ussery, Chloe Newkirk, and Benton Morisseau, won the regional title against dozens of South Mississippi teams.

Science bowl coach Natasja Brown said the students on all three teams from Ocean Spring Middle School spent months practicing.

“We kind of started practicing probably like late September, early October, and we practice every day after school twice a week,” Brown said. “And we would just continue that. Of course, during the holidays, I gave them a little bit of a break, and then we practice a little bit more. We actually bumped up to three days a week about two weeks before the competition.”

Wallis even with all that practicing and studying, there were many challenges her team faced during the tournament.

“Thinking that you know it, but you get second thoughts,” she said. “And it’s ok if I don’t know it but then I buzz and get it wrong. And it’s like one of those points where like you could lose it for your team.”

Wallis’s group had a complete turnaround when it was time to compete, according to Brown.

“So team three is definitely our underdog story,” Brown adds. “During practice, they would participate but teams one and two would get all of the questions right. I think them going in and just being confident and not worrying about people judging them if they get it wrong or right, I think that definitely plays into it as well.”

The science bowl was a learning experience for the winning crew and for all who participated this year, but one student said the biggest takeaway for the participants was the importance of supporting all of your competitors.

“I think seeing team three pull it out in the final round and rooting not only for my team but other teammates,” said student Evan Rubio.

The bowl teams attribute their hard work ethic and good sportsmanship to Brown.

“She doesn’t ever put any pressure on us in a bad way,” said student Jillian Goff. “She always tells us that we can do good and that she believes in us. She’s like the best coach ever.”

Ocean Springs Middle School will be the only team representing the Magnolia State in the Washington D.C. national competition in April.

The Mississippi Regional Science Bowl is sponsored each year by the Mississippi Development Authority’s Energy Resources Division and the Mississippi School of Mathematics and Science. Ocean Springs Middle School has been participating in the competition since 2020.

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