AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — The “Pantex Science Bowl” for regional middle schools took place on Saturday at the AmTech Career Academy.

According to a Pantex Facebook post the winner of the middle school regional “Pantex Science Bowl” is JT Hutchinson Middle School Team 1 from Lubbock. Bonham Middle School Team 1 won second place and Bonham Middle School Team 2 took home third place.

The best sportsmanship award was given to Ascension Academy.

The winner of the competition will receive up to $1,000 donated to their school’s program. Those in second place will receive $500 and third place will receive $250. The donations are from the Department of Energy along with Consolidated Nuclear Security.

The Pantex Science Bowl began Saturday morning with a round-robin format before transitioning to a double-elimination round in the afternoon.

Kenny Steward, Pantex Deputy Sight Manager said the students prepare for this competition in a number of ways.

“Some of the kids started just a couple of weeks ago, while other kids take this competition very seriously, and they study all year long to be a part of it,” said Steward.

Steward added that one of his favorite things to witness at the event is the confidence in the students and how it increases throughout the day.

“We all go to sporting events, we see high schools and junior high schools, and competition, you know different sports and things. Not all of these kids are physical athletes, but they are mental giants,” said Steward.

Crockett Middle School eighth grade teacher Kim Maki said her students in the eighth grade STEM class prepare for the science bowl two days out of the week in the classroom. She added that students are encouraged to also study for the competition outside of the classroom as well.

“This is my eighth year of doing the science bowl and this is the first year back after two years of being on virtual and it’s nice to be live again. We love the competition; we love seeing everybody grow in the science field. I think the reason why my students like it so much are just the feeling of competition and getting to know students that like science like they do,” said Maki.

Maki added that not only does this event allow the students to showcase their talents, but it can also open doors for them in the future.

“Well, this generation 85 percent of the careers in the future are going to be STEM. That’s either going to be science, technology, engineering, or math, so this is their future. Having this competition opens the door not only to competition but meeting mentors, because all of the Pantex employees, the professors that come here, they get to see people who have actually done it,” said Maki.

The Pantex Science Bowl will have the competition again on Feb. 4 for high school students. The winners of the middle school and high school regional competition will compete at Nationals in Washington DC in March.