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Making the grade LAMS ranks first in New Mexico in the Knowledge Master Competition

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By Kirsten Laskey

Eleven seventh and eighth grade students at Los Alamos Middle School proved their smarts during the Knowledge Master Competition.They ranked first in the state and 22nd of the 711 teams in the world that participated.During the competition, students were given the questions on a CD and competed right at the middle school, said Barbara Jo Mullis, eighth grade teacher and the coach of the middle school team. The competition occurred in December 2007.Questions covered everything from current events and literature to mathematics and science. “It’s a very broad knowledge base,” Mullis said.The competition included 200 questions and students were timed. So the faster they answered, the more points they got, Mullis said.The students’ teamwork helped them be successful.“You need to come together as a team to agree on an answer,” she said.Additionally, each student had an area of specialty.Mullis said some students are strong in English while others are knowledgeable in science, so they were able to help the team out when a question in their area of interest occurred.This is not the first time LAMS has participated in the competition. It has competed in it for five years. Mullis said she learned about competition while teaching in South Carolina.The competition is beneficial to students, she said, because it does require that they think.“One of the best things about the questions is that they are not straight recall,” Mullis said.Students need to do some analysis.“It’s digging deeper into what the students know,” she said.To prepare for the competition, students answered practice questions from past competitions.The more LAMS competed, the better the students have performed. “We have been improving as we participated,” Mullis said. “More and more, we’ve gotten better.”Several students voiced their excitement at their win.“We are all very excited that we could do so well,” eighth-grader Victoria Wang said.Scott Carlston, another eighth-grade student, said, “I’m very happy that we won state.”“It was excellent,” eighth grader Lorenzo Venneri said. “It was really fun and we were very proud to win first in state.”Middle school students are continuing to battle with their brains for the upcoming Department of Energy (DOE) Science Bowl, which will be held in April in Albuquerque.If students are interested in participating, practice sessions are held Mondays after school in Mullis’ classroom.