Our Voice: Thumbs up for Hanford HIgh School's Science Bowl team

March 4, 2013 

Brainiacs

Thumb up to Hanford High School for winning the Department of Energy's Regional Science Bowl at Washington State University Tri-Cities last month.

The members from Hanford's winning team were Sriram Katipamula, Chenguang Li, Sathvik Ramanan, Sean Thompson and Jonah Bartrand.

Another team from Hanford took third place, with second place honors going to Yakima's West Valley High School.

In all, 24 teams from southeastern Washington and parts of Oregon competed. It's not a contest for the faint of heart (or journalism majors).

Here's a sample question from DOE's official Science Bowl website:

If one end of a single polypeptide chain has an amino group exposed, what functional group is typically exposed at the opposite end?

Our answer: Huh?

Correct answer: Carboxyl.

This year, more than 9,500 high school students and 4,500 middle school students will compete in 70 high school and 50 middle school regional Science Bowl tournaments.

The Hanford team heads to the national championship April 25-29, in Washington, D.C.

Good luck and congratulations.

Got generosity?

Thumb up to six Yakima Valley dairies that banded together to donate 25,000 gallons of milk this year to hungry families in the Tri-Cities and Yakima areas.

The milk, valued at $60,000, will be distributed through Second Harvest Tri-Cities to food banks. Plans call for making 400 gallons available per week.

The Dairy for Life initiative comes from Bill Wavrin and his brother, Sid Wavrin, of Sunny Dene Ranch in Mabton; Jake and Genny DeRuyter of DeRuyter Brothers Dairy; Dan and Carolyn DeGroot of Skyridge Farms; Tom and Heather deVries of deVries Family Dairy; the Dolsen families of Cow Palace; and the Aquilini family, Henry and Lori Oord, and Jon and Lori Wheeler of Sunnyside Dairy.

Cassie Hurley, Second Harvest Tri-Cities development director, said this is the first time the nonprofit has been able to offer fluid milk on a regular basis to food banks serving about 55,000 people a month.

Anyone who ever used powdered milk to stretch a dollar knows how much better the real stuff tastes on a bowl of Wheaties.

The gift of milk is a big deal for a lot of struggling families.

Misplaced recognition

Thumb down to the Pentagon's ham-fisted handling of a new medal for cyber warriors.

From the Army Times: "The Distinguished Warfare Medal will be awarded to pilots of unmanned aircraft, offensive cyber war experts or others who are directly involved in combat operations but who are not physically in theater and facing the physical risks that warfare historically entails."

Not such a bad idea on the face of it. Members of the military engaged in such activities are operating in the service of our nation, and no doubt it takes a toll on body and mind. They should be honored for their sacrifice.

"This award recognizes the reality of the kind of technological warfare we are engaged in the 21st century," Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told reporters last month.

But in announcing the creation of the new medal, Pentagon officials said it will rank just below the Distinguished Flying Cross and above the Bronze Star with Valor device.

The Valor device denotes heroism under combat, which usually means risking one's own safety to protect others. Placing honors for a well-performed stateside job above medals recognizing combat valor cheapens both awards.

The Pentagon should recognize its mistake and reorder the ranking of these medals.

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