GORHAM — Chins were scratched and brows were furrowed. Fingers hovered over red electric buzzers.

And at the end of a daylong test of scientific knowledge at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham, a team of five juniors and seniors from Cape Elizabeth High School beat out nearly 100 other students from across the state to win the Maine Regional Science Bowl.

The group will advance to the national competition in Washington, D.C., this spring, the fourth time in eighth years that Cape students will represent the state.

“These five kids are real scientists – they really enjoy it,” said Shawn Guerrette, the Cape Elizabeth team adviser.

Seniors Sam Price, Mac Huffard, Wesley Parker and Allie Moulton, along with Ryan Collins, a junior and team captain, now will resume their studying in preparation for the national contest, which will be held April 27 to May 1.

The team of five was whittled from a pool of 20 interested Cape science students who were also selected by their science teachers. Guerrette and the students practiced their reaction times answering questions and divided up extra reading to prepare. The five competing members were selected by a student vote, Huffard said.

Then the real work began.

“We practice, we practice, we practice,” Guerrette said, including 20 hours alone on the buzzer in recent weeks. “It’s mostly course work and some (of it) is above and beyond, which is why we pull from different sciences.”

The rules pit teams head to head, and a system of rewards and penalties for right and wrong answers, buzzed at different times, means that encyclopedic knowledge is not enough to carry the day. The competition unfolds in a series of timed, rapid-fire question-and-answer sessions in which anyone on either team can individually buzz in.

Right answers gives teams a shot at bonus questions, when they can confer among themselves for a longer period of time for more points.

By 3 p.m., Cape Elizabeth was undefeated, and faced five students from the Maine School of Science and Mathematics in Limestone.

The final tally was 52-24.

Now the Cape students will be hitting the books again until the national competition in late April.

“I think we’re all really excited to do well at nationals,” Huffard said.

Matt Byrne can be contacted at 791-6303 or at:

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