Image: Victorious Mira Loma High School science team
Dennis Brack  /  Department of Energy via AP
Members of the Mira Loma High School science team, from left, Sriram Pendyala, Edward Lee, Andrew Chen, and Rishi Kulkarni react to winning the National Science Bowl in Washington, D.C., on Monday.
By Associated Press Writer
updated 5/4/2009 9:19:36 PM ET 2009-05-05T01:19:36

An astronomical diagram pointed a Sacramento, Calif., high school team toward victory Monday in the National Science Bowl.

The five students from Mira Loma High School recognized a Hertzsprung-Russell diagram, used by astronomers to study stars, in the finals of the competition, sponsored by the Energy Department.

The team bested 66 other teams to win a trip to the International Science School at the University of Sydney in Australia this summer.

Team captain Rishi Kulkarni, 17, said the victory "still hasn't sunk in yet." His team came in second place last year and the returning members set out to achieve victory in the 2009 competition by splitting up most of the subjects and using college textbooks to prepare.

Kulkarni said he and his teammates — Edward Lee, 17, Andrew Chen, 15, Heather Yee, 16, and Sriram Pendyala, 15 — will celebrate with a party.

As the only senior on the team, Kulkarni said he hopes his teammates will return and win again next year.

"Hopefully they will start a dynasty in this competition," he said.

Coming in second was the team from Lexington (Mass.) High School. The Oak Ridge (Tenn.) High School team came in third, followed by the 2008 victors, Santa Monica (Calif.) High School team.

The top three teams won software to help teachers do class experiments using calculators and the top four teams won Texas Instruments calculators.

In the middle school division another California school took the top spot. The group from Hopkins Junior High School in Fremont came out ahead of 35 other teams.

More than 500 students participated in the competition. They represented 42 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The top 16 finishers in the high school division each received $1,000 for their school science departments. The top 16 middle school teams received $500 for their schools.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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