Rana Walley, PhD, MLS (ASCP)CM, ASCLS-MS President; Lee Byrd, MT(ASCP)H, ASCLS-MS Board of Directors Member

“Team A, for 5 points, what is the role of hemoglobin?” asked the Student Bowl Moderator, Lee Byrd.
“Hemoglobin carries oxygen,” answered the captain for Team A.
“Incorrect.” Came from the Hematology judge.
“Team B, you have 10 seconds to steal,” explained Mr. Byrd.
“The role of hemoglobin is to carry oxygen to the tissues and carbon dioxide to the lungs,” was the Team B captain’s response.
“Five points for Team B.”

While hemoglobin does carry oxygen, this response is not good enough for Student Bowl. As a student in 1996, I was part of the Student Bowl team for my small class of medical laboratory science (MLS) students at Baptist Hospital in Jackson, Mississippi. Our class reviewed material and practiced questions preparing for the Student Bowl. We did not win that year, but each of us did pass our American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) Medical Technologist certification exam. Two of us later became program directors of an MLS and Medical Laboratory Technology (MLT) program and would bring our students to the same Student Bowl.

Louisiana and Mississippi hold a joint bi-state Annual Meeting each year with each state rotating the responsibility of hosting and planning. The highlight of the meeting for students is the Student Bowl Competition. There are MLT and MLS competitions. This competition is a double elimination with winners walking away with not only bragging rights, but also an engraved plaque to pass on from team to team each year. Student Bowl has been roaring at this bi-state meeting for over 40 years. The first competition was held in 1975.

Lee Byrd, a graduate of University of Southern Mississippi and longtime supporter of students, organizes the MLT student bowl. Mr. Byrd was involved in Student Bowl when he was a student over 20 years ago. He organizes binders with questions and answers for moderators and judges and updates questions as technology changes and advances. He also coordinates teams and outlines the competition bracket. Representatives from Louisiana organize the MLS Student Bowl. This year the MLS Student Bowl coordinator for the bi-state Annual Meeting was Rosalie Hendrix, a microbiologist.

Student Bowl begins with a coin toss to decide which team will answer questions first. The first round consists of a 5-point question. The moderator reads the question twice and the team captain has 30 seconds to confer with the team members and answer to the panel of judges. There is no penalty for answering incorrectly. The second round of questions contains a 10-point question for each team. The third round is when the game gets exciting. Teams may choose a 5- or 10-point question. There are no penalties for a wrong answer. However, the opposing team has 10 seconds to answer correctly and win the points. Rounds of play in eight different categories continue in a game that lasts 20 minutes or until a team scores 70 points. 

Each year at the bi-state meeting, there are two rooms for the MLT Bowl and four rooms for the MLS Bowl. Each room has a moderator and panel of judges. Each competition room also has a timekeeper, scorekeeper, and a sergeant at arms. Once a round of game play begins, no one may leave or enter the room. Volunteers step forward each year to contribute to a successful Student Bowl. Educators, graduate students, alumni, and community supporters come together each year to support students. 

Student Bowl Competition practice is a fun and effective way to study for the ASCP Board of Certification (BOC) exams. For many students, Student Bowl Competition is the first time they experience the number of professionals entering the field with them. Most importantly, students can assess their readiness to sit for the ASCP BOC exam. Student Bowl questions are tough and guide the students toward the material on which they need to focus their studies.

The comradery and excitement of Student Bowl inspires students to have a deeper passion for laboratory medicine and sparks a desire to pass that on through education.