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Contests entered by Paul McElligott’s students

Science teacher Paul McElligott and his students regularly compete for scholarship money and prizes. The competitions include:

The Cox Cable Brain Storm – Students in Arizona compete, three schools at a time, to win electronics and scholarship money. Last year, all students competing received two tickets to the Southwest Shakespeare Company.


BotBall – Students compete in a national robotics competition using computer programming, system design, and engineering. The competition costs $2,500 per team, which includes all robotics equipment, in addition to participation in the two-day workshop and the regional Botball Tournament. Schools keep all the equipment, which is reusable for classrooms and extracurricular activities.


The National Science Bowl – Students in teams answer science questions using buzzers. Run by the U.S. Department of Energy, this contest features 25 questions per match, with bonus questions available for each question answered correctly.

AAPT PhysicsBowl – Students (around 10,000 in total) take a 40-question, 45-minute timed, multiple-choice test under the supervision of their school. Winners and high-level placers receive electronics, t-shirts, and gift cards.

The Chemistry Olympiad – Students compete on a national and international level by taking chemistry tests. It begins on the local level, then the best scoring students (about 1,000) move on to the national level, and then the best of those students compete internationally.

The Intel Science Talent Search – Students (roughly 1,600 high school seniors) compete for a large amount of prizes and scholarship money through research projects. The grand prize is a four-year $100,000 scholarship. Finalists also receive laptops, a trip to Washington, D.C. and $5,000.


Progressive Automotive X PRIZE – Teams (some students, some not) from around the world are challenged to build a marketable, eco-friendly car or vehicle. The prize is $10 million to be split among the winners. Teams gather funding from various grants and outside sources.


They also participate in Castles and Coasters Physics Day, a local competition where students perform labs on real roller coasters, the Scottsdale Community College Math and Science Day, a series of competitions involving experiments and projects, and the Academic Decathlon, which consists of themed testing (this year’s theme: the French Revolution) for scholarships.

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