With the question, "What kitchen appliance is essentially a heat engine in reverse?" - the 2019 Kendall M. Wallace Greater Lowell Knowledge Bowl semifinals was off and running Monday night, May 20.
When it was all over, the contenders for the following night's Regional Knowledge Bowl finals was set, and included a competition among Lowell, Tewksbury and Chelmsford middle-school students.
Lowell emerged victorious.
"This feels fantastic," said Lowell Team Captain Nina Wolf. "We messed up a little on the math round, but we're not going to go there."
Monday night's semifinals quizzed 60 students from six middle schools on their knowledge in math, science, literature and current events. Questions delved into an array of topics like famous speeches, Asian geography, music notations and kitchen physics, which is the topic of the aforementioned question.
And for those wondering about the answer to, "What kitchen appliance is essentially a heat engine in reverse?" It's refrigerator.
Monday's semi-finals format included teams from Lowell and Chelmsford public schools, and Locke Middle School in Billerica competing in the first round. The second round consisted of last year's defending champions Tyngsboro Middle School - also the winner of two of the last three competitions - versus Tewksbury's Wynn Middle School and Richardson Middle School in Dracut.
Lowell won round one with 255 points, while Tewksbury was the victor in round two, finishing with 225 points. Of the two rounds, the top-scoring second place team was Chelmsford, with 170 points, allowing them to advance to Tuesday night's finals competition, during which Lowell emerged victorious.
"It's great," said 14-year-old Tewksbury team member Harshit Pal, moments after their semifinals victory.
"Last year we didn't do so well," he added. "We didn't get in the top three, so this year no one expected Tewksbury to come out on top. We really think this year was a shining year for us."
The Lowell Public Schools already held a battle of knowledge among nine of the district's middle schools over a seven-week period in March. Wang Middle School was named the champion of the competition, titled the Kathryn Philbin Stoklosa Knowledge Bowl.
The Lowell team that won in Monday night's regional semi-finals is an "all star" team composed of students from the three middle schools that reached the Lowell-based Knowledge Bowl championship. Aside from four Wang students, the group includes three students each from runner-ups Daley Middle School and STEM Academy.
Lowell team member Gabby Rudy said the hours of studying over the span of weeks has paid off.
"I'm glad we made it to the finals," she said. "We've all been working so hard on this Mondays and Fridays. We study our butts off. I'm really glad we made it this far."
The team of Tyngsboro Middle School students were in familiar territory having won "home field" with their Regional Knowledge Bowl victory in 2018. With 160 points, the home team just missed out on making it to the finals round.
Dracut students finished fifth with 130 points and Billerica finished sixth with 125 points.
Follow Aaron Curtis on Twitter @aselahcurtis