LOWELL -- Call it the Super Bowl for smart kids from Greater Lowell.
On Monday, middle school students from Tyngsboro, Tewksbury and Dracut will show off their academic skills in the preliminary round of the annual Kendall M. Wallace Greater Lowell Regional Knowledge Bowl. In the final round, scheduled for Tuesday, two top scoring teams from the preliminary round and Lowell students who already won in the city schools' own bowl will go head-to-head for the medals and trophies.
There will be a stage, spotlights and microphones. Students will be ringing in on buzzers, just like contestants on TV game shows.
Academically oriented students have studied hard for months can become champions, said Maggie Perkins, a teacher at John W. Wynn Middle School in Tewksbury, who coached the Tewksbury team.
"I think it really gives them a huge confidence boost," Perkins said.
"We would love to see all regional towns send their students," Carolyn Rocheleau, coordinator of special programs for Lowell Public Schools, said of the knowledge bowl.
Knowledge Bowl 2014 will take place on Monday and Tuesday, both at 5:30 p.m., at Kathryn P. Stoklosa Middle School. This is the second year for the tournament, which is sponsored by The Sun in collaboration with Lowell Public Schools. Rocheleau serving as the coordinator.
The event is named in honor of Wallace, a 1959 Lowell High School graduate who built a half-century career at The Sun, rising from reporter to publisher to chairman of the board.
The regional event is built on the Kathryn P. Stoklosa Middle School Knowledge Bowl, which started in the city 20 years ago. In the tournament, students from the city's eight middle schools compete their academic skills in various subjects from geography to science. James Campanini, editor of The Sun, approached Superintendent of Schools Jean Franco two years ago about a regional tournament. Franco accepted the challenge and invited school officials from neighboring communities to discuss the idea.
The inaugural regional tournament last year featured teams from Lowell, Dracut and Tewksbury. This year, Tyngsboro joins for the first time.
Ciaran Pendergast, seventh-grade English language arts teacher and team coach at Tyngsboro Middle School, said, "There are a lot of students who are excited about competing their academic knowledge."
Teams are limited to 10 students. So many students were interested that Dracut had a waiting list for the first-come-first-serve enrollment; Tewksbury and Tyngsboro used tests to narrow their squads.
Some Lowell eighth-graders say they have spent four years preparing for the bowl, said Lowell coach Jess Nucefora, a teacher at Henry J. Robinson Middle School.
All teams have met twice a week in recent months to practice. The coaches say athlete students are celebrated in school often.
"It's nice to showcase students who excel academically," Rebecca Duda, teacher at Lakeview Junior High School and Dracut's coach.
"The Sun is delighted to be a partner in this wonderful event that highlights the academic talents of young students who have worked so hard to represent their schools," Campanini said. "We urge everyone to come out and see the good work being done in the schools through this event."
Questions cover a range of subjects from current affairs to mathematics. Many adults wouldn't know the answers, coaches said.
But, knowing it all may not be the key to the championship. Nucefora said the Lowell students, who won last year's regional bowl, later looked back and summed it up: "We won because we had the most fun on the stage."
Here's who'll compete in the Kendall Wallace Knowledge Bowl
Coach: Rebecca Duda
Coach: Maggie Perkins
Coaches: Mary Gail Jaggers, Ciaran Pendergast.
Lowell (2013 champs)
Coaches: Jess Nucefora,