By Becky Schroer
The Chicago Bulls have nothing on Plainfield Community Middle School (PCMS)…when it comes to science. The PCMS Academic Superbowl Science Team earned its “three-peat” this year by winning its third consecutive Indiana Academic Superbowl Science Championship.
It also is the school’s seventh science championship in 15 years under coach and eighth-grade science teacher Bradley DeHoff. Not to mention, four second places, one third place, one fourth place, 12th and 17th during the 15 years.
The PCMS team competed against 70 other middle schools in the Academic Superbowl, Junior Division, Class I, competition. Teams included those from nearby Avon, Brownsburg and Zionsville. There are two middle school (junior) division classes based on school size, with class I including larger schools.
“These kids feed off of each other,” DeHoff said. “The kids are researching on the computer. They all contribute to the team. They all know what the end goal is,” he added.
This year the Academic Superbowl theme for all subjects was the French Revolution. “Our main focus was the scientists of that time and what they were doing,” DeHoff explained. In the competition, the students had to know chemical equation balancing, fossils, the Montgolfier Brothers and ballooning, temperature conversions, diseases of the time (gangrene, dysentery, malaria, typhoid fever, smallpox), and the guillotine mechanics.
DeHoff said the topics each year are very broad, and it is up to the students to research in depth. The team began meeting once a week in November, but a month before the May competition, the students ramp it up to four times a week.
“I want to work really hard at it, and they want to work very hard at it. They are hardworking and willing to put in the time,” DeHoff claims as a reason for the team’s success.
The PCMS team included seventh and eighth graders. They are Salik Ahmad, Bianca Cortez, Logan Eddington, Caden McClure, Andrew Meskimen, Het Patel, Anna Price, Elizabeth Rowan, William Rulon, Rashad Saleem, Sammy Trivett, Keegan Vanevery, Erin Vaughan and Harrison Woodruff.
“I was surprised, but our team is so great,” team captain Bianca Cortez said of the team’s championship. Because of a swimming conflict her seventh-grade year, Cortez wasn’t able to join the team until this year. “I thought the topic this year was interesting, and I enjoyed the challenge,” she said. She plans to continue with the Academic Superbowl in high school.
“I have always been interested in science, and Mr. DeHoff is one of my favorite teachers,” said eighth grader Salik Ahmad.
“It was kind of nerve-wracking. I was so nervous,” said eighth grader Andrew Meskimen, who competed for the first time this year. “It was definitely a good first experience,” added.
Overall, Mr. DeHoff explained, all PCMS teams did very well in the state Academic Superbowl. In addition to finishing first in science, the school grabbed third place in social studies, finished in the top 15 in math, third in English, and fourth in the interdisciplinary competition.