Five Northland High School students will head to Las Vegas this spring to showcase their skills in science, technology, math and engineering in the National Society of Black Engineers' national STEM competition.

Five Northland High School students will head to Las Vegas this spring to showcase their skills in science, technology, math and engineering in the National Society of Black Engineers' national STEM competition.

Northland's STEM team, which formed only three years ago, earned their tickets to Vegas in November by winning the regional competition in Detroit.

Sybil Brown, the team's adviser, credited the win to hours of studying and preparation and a lot of hard work from the students.

"Whenever I said, 'We need to practice,' they'd come up with the time," Brown said. "They all take AP classes. Some of them work; they do other sports."

The students who earned the top prize at the regional competition are seniors Scott Boaz, Zeinab Mohamed and Haochi Chen, and juniors Nathan Carr and Sylvester Amponsah.

During the competition, the students took individual math tests, worked on an engineer problem as a group and competed in a Jeopardy-style quiz bowl.

Though the team means extra hours of studying, often on Friday nights, the students say the experience they gain through the competitions makes it well worthwhile.

"This is good for my math skills," Carr said. "The way they make you do it without a calculator really helps me."

Amponsah said the constant studying and quizzing also makes sure they don't forget the math they've learned in earlier years of school.

"There's a practice that you gain from all this, an experience, too," he said.

The people they meet at the different competitions also add to the experience, the students said.

"People are very welcoming. Everyone's very friendly toward each other," Boaz said.

The other students they encounter at the events, as well as the older society members, also teach them about attitude and working toward their goals, they said.

"They teach you to be positive," Amponsah said. "They teach you to be optimistic about what you want to do."

The students said they are excited about traveling to a new city for the next competition and are looking forward to the people they will meet there.

They know a lot of hard work will go into preparing for the competition in late March, though they've taken a bit of a break following their win in November.

"We're still a couple of months away, so we haven't really started yet," Chen said.

And though they'd love to bag a national title, the students still are proud of the accomplishments they've earned so far, by winning both the central Ohio and the regional competitions.

"This is very positive that we won," Carr said. "We can show other people and other schools that Columbus Public Schools has some intelligent students."

The students have earned praise around school, Brown said, and even were presented a certificate signed by the mayor.