TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KLIX) – Ten students from Twin Falls High School and Vera C. O’Leary Middle School will head to Washington, D.C., next month for a five-day stay in the nation’s capital.

The teens are taking part in the National Science Bowl, an educational competition for high school and middle school students that involves all branches of scientific learning.

Attending finals is an all-expenses-paid trip for the students, who while in DC will visit national monuments and markers such as the National Mall and the Smithsonian Institution.

Students from O'Leary Middle School pose for a photo after learning that they'll be heading to Washington, DC. in April for the National Science Bowl. (Photo courtesy of the Twin Falls School District)

It will be a great opportunity for them to see important American icons, but also to meet students from many parts of the country, said quiz bowl coach Jo Marie Connor, a chemistry teacher at Twin Falls High.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for the kids,” she said, noting that during their trip students will be staying in dorm-like facilities where they can get to know kids from other schools.

This is the 27th year of the National Science Bowl, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science and held at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center. More than 17,000 students attend the annual event, which focuses on math and science questions.

Connor describes the competition as being similar to the TV game show Jeopardy. Students have a buzzer, and only one person from a team can answer in the “toss-up” round. But they also have a “bonus” option that allows them to discuss the question and answer as a team.

Students from Twin Falls High School will compete in finals at the National Science Bowl in April in Washington, D.C. (Photo courtesy of the Twin Falls School District)

This is the second year Connor’s teams have made it to finals, but it’s not an easy trek getting there. The students at the high school, for instance, had about six different competitions before making it to the regional championships, and often would come to school on Saturday mornings to practice.

Their efforts aren’t over yet.

“We do a lot of practicing,” Connor said. “It involves a lot more than just showing up. It’s quite academic.”

Connor said even if her teams don’t win at finals, the dividend for the students is that the event teaches them the importance of knowledge and there’s nothing wrong with them liking technical subjects. And there are many students across the country who enjoy the same things.

“It’s a great opportunity for them to be with other kids who like math and science,” she said. “These are smart kids, and it’s OK to be smart. It’s what they know and have learned in school.

It also is something that can help them after high school, she said: “It’s a real benefit to them because it’ll look good on their transcripts.”