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Competition Summary


To score more points (by answering questions correctly) than the opposing team.


Two teams of seven players each, consisting of four or five panelists and three alternates. The alternates may move onto the panel, and panelists back to the alternate row at the break between rounds. A coach may move 0 to 3 players at this time, at his or her discretion.


A match consists of two, ten-minute rounds of toss-up and bonus questions. Rounds are separated by a lightning round and a short break to allow coaches to make changes on the panelist and alternate rows (changes can only be made by moving panelists to the alternate row and alternates to the panelist row).

Play begins and the clock starts when the quizmaster begins reading the first toss-up question. Only the panelists are allowed to answer toss-up questions and no conferring among team members is allowed. If a team does confer during a toss-up question they will be warned by the quizmaster; if they confer again during the match it will be ruled as a wrong answer. The first person to “buzz-in” (press their buzzer button, which then locks out all other attempts to buzz-in) will try to answer the question after the quizmaster recognizes them by name. If the question is answered correctly, 10 points are awarded to that team and the team is asked a bonus question. The team is allowed 20 seconds to confer among its members (both panelists and alternates) and reach a decision. The team captains buzzer must “ring” prior to the expiration of the 20 seconds. If the question is answered correctly, the team is awarded five bonus points.

If the first person to buzz in on a toss-up question answers incorrectly, there will be a five-point penalty assessed to that team and the other team is then allowed to try to answer the same question with no penalty points attached. If the second team answers correctly, it will also be awarded an opportunity to answer a bonus question.

The first round ends after 10 minutes, at which time the lightning round begins. In the lightning round each team competes individually and against time only. The team trailing the match after the first round is to leave the room and be in a location so as not to hear the lightning round questions being asked.

The team with the most points goes first. Sixty seconds are set on the clock, and time begins when the quizmaster begins reading the first question. Only panelists are allowed to buzz in and answer questions. When a question is answered incorrectly, any panelist (including the one who answered incorrectly) may continue to buzz-in to try answering correctly. The quizmaster will not move on to the next question until the current question is either answered correctly or the team captain calls “pass.” There are no penalty points for incorrect answers, and each correct answer is worth five points. The round ends when the 60 seconds expire.

When the first team has completed its lightning round, the team trailing after the first round returns to the room and is asked the same questions with the same allotment of 60 seconds. There is no limit to the number of questions asked during the lightning round.

After both lightning rounds, a two-minute break will be taken to allow coaches to discuss strategy and make changes on the panel.

The match concludes with the second round of toss-up and bonus questions, which lasts ten minutes, or until all of the toss-up questions have all been asked, whichever comes first. The score at this point is the final score of the match.


Science Bowl Contacts:

Steve Zollinger, 208-313-4559 Send Email

Brenda Greenhalgh, 208-526-9399 Send Email

Department of energy

DOE Office of Nuclear Energy
DOE-Idaho Office