2024 EnergyWhiz Award Winners

EnergyWhiz was held on Saturday, April 20th, 2024. Listed below are the award winners for the competitions: Critter Comfort Cottage, Energy Inspired Art, Junior Solar Sprint, and Solar Energy Cook-off.


Best Design

Elementary (3-5) Division

1st – Team Turtle-Tastic, Sally Ride Elementary, Orlando Teacher: Beatriz Berriz

2nd – Happy Hamsters, Red Bug Elementary, Casselberry Teacher: Tisha Greek

3rd – EcoDragons, Lockmar Elementary, Palm Bay Teacher: Jennifer Lucas


Middle (6-8) Division

1st – Sustainable Krill Farm, Switzerland Point Middle, Jacksonville Coach: Ricardo Haragutchi

2nd – Croaky Critters, Pershing K-8, Orlando Teacher: Heather Febres

3rd – The Leaping Lizards (Napoleon), Pershing K-8, Orlando Teacher: Heather Febres

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Abraham Lincoln Middle School Takes Top Prize at Florida Regional Middle School Science Bowl

Abraham Lincoln Middle School Takes Top Prize at Florida Regional Middle School Science Bowl

University of Central Florida’s FSEC® Hosts Competition

Winners of the Florida Regional Middle School Science Bowl, Abraham Lincoln Middle School’s Team 1: (Left to right) Andrew Xu, Gavin Xie, Jesse Deng, Daniel Wei, Jaganesh Ramkrishnan. Coach: Paul Busheme

By Sherri Shields

Cocoa, Fla. – On Saturday, February 24, Abraham Lincoln Middle School of Gainesville, Fla., won first place at the Florida Regional Competition of the National Middle School Science Bowl®. The competition took place at the University of Central Florida’s Florida Solar Energy Center® (FSEC®) in Cocoa.

Abraham Lincoln Middle School’s Team 1 was among 10 teams from Florida schools who competed in the fast-paced question-and-answer contest in which students answer questions about Earth, physical, life, and general sciences, and math. Each team is made up of four students, a student alternate, and a teacher who serves as an advisor and coach.

Abraham Lincoln Middle School’s sixth grade science teacher, Paul Busheme, brought two teams to the Florida Regional Middle School Science Bowl. “The kids this year were really, really excited. We had a lot of students who wanted to participate, but because of the two-team limit, we had to go through a process. We had like 50 plus kids trying out for the team,” says Busheme. This was his first time bringing teams to the science bowl.

This is also the first year that American Heritage School’s sixth and eighth grade honors science teacher, Ashley Ventrella, has brought a team to the science bowl, and she’s elated with their performance. “We utilize our lunch daily to work on content and strategy. Their commitment and drive are what motivate me to be their coach and mentor them in competitions. Next year, we’ll have two teams competing,” says Ventrella.

Students building tower out of straws.
Abraham Lincoln Middle School Team 2 builds tower out of straws for the Engineering Challenge.

Abraham Lincoln Middle School’s Team 2 placed second and also won the Engineering Challenge, an unofficial event at the science bowl. The challenge was to design the highest tower out of straws. “The challenge kept the teams engaged when it wasn’t their time to participate,” says Guytri Still, former middle school teacher and National Science Bowl mentor. “It was interesting to see how each team tackled the challenge. I’ve seen it time and time again, whether it’s an engineering challenge or the science bowl, teams who work together have the best outcomes,” says Still.

The Abraham Lincoln Middle School Team 1 will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., to participate in the National Science Bowl, scheduled for April 28th – May 2, 2024. The U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science manages the National Science Bowl® and sponsors the NSB finals competition. The Department of Energy’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. FSEC hosts one of 50 regional middle school competitions, and this year’s event was sponsored by JinkoSolar.

Final Results of the Florida regional competition:

  • 1st Place in the Academic Portion – Abraham Lincoln Middle School, Team 1 (Gainesville, FL)
  • 2nd Place in the Academic Portion – Abraham Lincoln Middle School, Team 2 (Gainesville, FL)
  • 3rd Place in the Academic Portion – American Heritage School (Delray Beach, FL)

Photos of the event are available at https://fsec.zenfolio.com/p48736446.

For more information, contact: Susan Schleith, FSEC Program Director,  K-12 Energy Education, susan@fsec.ucf.edu.

Second place winners: Abraham Lincoln School Team 2, Gainesville, FL


Third place winners: American Heritage School, Delray Beach, FL.

Space Coast Community Celebrates Its 25th Year Recognizing Exemplary Science Teachers

Six outstanding science teachers received the distinguished Exemplary Science Teacher Award from the Space Coast Science Education Alliance (SCSEA) last Space Coast Science Education Alliance SCSEA logoweek at a dinner honoring their achievement. The award is given in recognition of Brevard County teachers who go above and beyond to foster a love of learning and develop science literacy among their students.  

“When SCSEA started this program 25 years ago, it was to encourage exemplary science teachers to keep up their great work, and for the community to say thank you for the sacrifices that teachers and their families make. That goal remains the same,” said Susan Schleith, SCSEA treasurer and FSEC educator. “Our outstanding science teachers are the key reason Brevard is among the top Florida school districts in science education.”       

The dinner was hosted by UCF’s Florida Solar Energy Center®, where FSEC Deputy Director, Philip Fairey, addressed the teachers with some notable remarks. “The scientific method is rigorous—requiring defensible evidence-based results. Science is not a belief as some claim. Rather, it is a method of discovery that has significantly improved human existence over time. And this is what you do—you teach our children what science is and why it is so important.”

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2023 EnergyWhiz (In-Person) Award Winners

Congratulations to all of the award winners at this year’s EnergyWhiz! This year’s event was held on Earth Day, April 22, 2023 at FSEC, an energy research center at the University of Central Florida, in Cocoa, Florida.


Green Division (Grades 3 – 5)

Best Design

1st Place – BlackJack – Sumter STEM 4H (Wildwood)
Teacher – Jenna Childs

2nd Place – The Three Speeds – NSU University School (Fort Lauderdale)
Teacher – Michele Garren

3rd Place – The NSU Gang – NSU University School (Fort Lauderdale)
Teacher – Michele Garren

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2023 EnergyWhiz Virtual Award Winners

EnergyWhiz Virtual logoFrom crazy contraptions that take you around the world, to super speedy solar cars, this year’s EnergyWhiz Virtual was diverse and inspiring. Visit https://www.energywhiz.com/energywhiz-virtual-2023/ to see the projects. The award winners are listed below.

Be sure to join us for EnergyWhiz in-person on April 22, 2023 (Earth Day) at the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) in Cocoa. Projects at the in-person event include Critter Comfort Cottage, Electrathon, Energy Inspired Art, Junior Solar Sprint, and the Solar Energy Cook-off. Exhibits and tasty food truck fare will also be there. All are invited to participate in an EnergyQuest (scavenger hunt) and win a prize. 

This year’s sponsors include FPL, KUA, Duke Energy, LifeStyle Homes, Florida Association of Sleep Technologists, Central Florida Clean Cities Coalition, and Drive Electric Florida. Read more