Markus Ong

Assistant Professor of Physics

Place of service: Whitworth Science Bowl (as part of the National Science Bowl program established by the Dept. of Energy)

Why I Serve

My past experience with science bowl made two significant contributions to my calling to work here at Whitworth.  First, it did not really sink in for me that I was particularly good at science or even that I especially liked it until I started participating in science bowl when I was in junior high.  Although my participation in science bowl as a student ended after high school, my interest in science and engineering continued throughout the rest of my education and my career to this point.  After graduating from my high school, I immediately jumped back and returned to coach and volunteer with the science bowl students during my time in college and graduate school.  The second way that science bowl influenced my path to Whitworth was that I discovered that I really liked working with the students and teaching them.  I also realized that this type of work gave me a chance to make a difference in not just their academic lives, but also their spiritual lives.  When I left my job at the national laboratory to come to Whitworth, this was the most important piece of my vocation that I could not get from the lab.

How I Serve

I serve as regional competition coordinator. From 2012-2014, I worked as co-coordinator on the planning committee to host middle school and high school competitions at Whitworth. Last year, I was the sole coordinator and only remaining member of the planning committee as people withdrew to take new jobs and the middle school competition has been temporarily suspended.

As the regional competition coordinator, my responsibilities have included recruiting, organizing, and training volunteers, helping new coaches establish teams at their schools, setting up rooms with the necessary equipment and supplies, scheduling tournament pairings and brackets, and communicating with National Science Bowl’s office in Washington, D.C.  Our volunteers come from our connections in the community, Spokane Falls Community College, Gonzaga University, Eastern Washington University, Washington State University, and Whitworth faculty, staff, and students.  A wide range of Whitworth departments have contributed volunteers including Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Math/CS, Education, Health Sciences, and World Languages and Cultures.  In the four years that Whitworth has hosted this tournament, teams from Pullman have represented us at the high school national competition, routinely placing in the top quarter of the national field.  Our middle school regional winner from Seattle placed as high as third in the nation in 2012.

Science bowl has many benefits to Whitworth and the Spokane community.  Exceptional middle school and high school students have the opportunity to interact with other students that are similarly gifted in math and science and gain extra incentive to raise the bar for their own achievement.  This is in the long-term best interest of Spokane because the region will benefit from a greater general interest in science and technology.  There are also many internal benefits to the Whitworth community.  Students have a chance to serve society alongside other scientists and engineers in the community as they volunteer to run the tournaments.  Whitworth also benefits from the exposure to some of the top prospective students in math and science in the region.