Top of the Morning, March 11, 2014

Top of the Morning, March 11, 2014

Pop quiz:

1. Of the four general types of biological molecules — proteins, carbohydrates, lipids and nucleic acids — which one typically accounts for the majority of dietary calories in the human diet?

You have five seconds to answer.

Tick, tock ...

"And that was an easy question," said Brenda Searby, first-year coach of Next Generation School's Science Bowl team. "If you get that right, you get a bonus question."

2. Starch and glycogen are polymers of what simple sugar?

This time, you have 20 seconds. And you can confer with teammates.

Tick, tock ...

"The competition is intense," Searby said.

Those answers — 1. carbohydrates, 2. glucose — and many more came easy to five quick-thinking seventh- and eighth-graders from Next Generation (pictured above), who are headed on an expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., for the 2014 National Science Bowl. That's their reward for winning the school's first regional title.

Like basketball teams this time of year, Next Generation celebrated accordingly.

Said Searby: "The kids were jumping up and down, parents were hugging each other ..."

And Coach stayed dry.

"There was no Gatorade dumping," she said. "We went to Meatheads."

The team — which prepared for regionals by studying on Saturdays — flies out April 14 and will get red-carpet treatment in the nation's capital: museum tours, dinners, spiffy hotel rooms, all on the U.S. Department of Energy's bill. The top eight middle schools get $1,000 for their science departments.

The accomplishment has the school buzzing. "Everyone's giddy," said Searby, adding there will be a pep rally before the team heads to Willard Airport.

Now comes the hard part.

First-time participant Next Generation is like a No. 15 seed in the NCAA tournament: a long-shot but fired up to be playing.

"There are schools there who go year after year," Searby said. "We're looking at it as great exposure for our school."

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