A team from Santa Monica High School captured first place in the 2008 U.S. Department of Energy’s National Science Bowl Monday, May 5th, in Washington, D.C.

Santa Monica High School defeated Mira Loma High School of Sacramento in the championship match and beat out 65 other high schools competing in the bowl finals at the National Building Museum.

The National Science Bowl is a nationwide academic competition that tests students’ knowledge in all areas of science.

“On behalf of all Californians, I congratulate the students from Santa Monica High School for winning this year’s National Science Bowl competition,” Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said in a statement. “Their accomplishment highlights our state’s commitment to science education, and I commend these students for their hard work and dedication.”

The members of Santa Monica High’s winning team are Alexandre Boulgakov, Marino Di Franco, Ian Fels Scheffler, Dimitry Petrenko and coach Ingo Gaida.

The team won a trip to the International Youth Science Forum in London in addition to $1,000 for its school’s science department. Santa Monica clinched the science bowl title by answering a mathematics question.

“I congratulate all of the students who competed in this year’s U.S. Department of Energy National Science Bowl,” U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman said. “As proud as I am to celebrate the impressive accomplishments of these students — and they truly are impressive — the truth is that the National Science Bowl is more than just an academic contest.

“It’s an important part of the effort to reinvigorate science in America, and it is my hope that these young competitors will help raise awareness of the great need to support scientific education and inspire students across the nation to pursue this discipline.”

More than 300 high school students competed in the national finals of the 18th annual Department of Energy National Science Bowl. Earlier this spring, more than 12,000 students from across the country participated in regional science bowls for high school students. The winners of the regional high school science bowls received all-expense paid trips to compete in the national finals in Washington, D.C.

The Santa Monica team’s victory came after another team from the high school finished in third place in the 11th Annual National Ocean Sciences Bowl last month at Seward High School in Seward, Alaska. A member of that team, Petrenko, also competed on the school’s winning science bowl team.

Twenty-five high schools from throughout the United States competed in the National Ocean Sciences Bowl, with prizes and scholarships on the line. After winning their respective regional competitions in February, the 25 teams traveled to Alaska for the opportunity to compete over their knowledge of the oceans at the national finals.