North Hollywood High School had a memorable performance at the National Science Bowl competition in Washington, D.C., finishing third in its division.

The five member-team —  Dawit Kim, Joshua Kim, Christopher Moon, Sean Koyama and captain Richard Wang — also won the Division Team Challenge round — a for first time for North Hollywood — and earned $500 for the school’s science department.

“I’m very proud of them,” said teacher and team coach Altair Maine. “They’re all fun to work with. They are awfully sharp, and are all going to colleges like Harvard and the Cal Techs.”

Maine and assistant coach Len Soloff guided the team, which met after school to study test material in sciences including chemistry and biology. “Some of the questions were very broad, some were very technical,” Maine said. “And some were questions even college grad students don’t see.”

The North Hollywood team earned its cross-country trip by winning the Los Angeles regional Science Bowl, sponsored the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, back in February. It was the school’s 16th victory in the past 18 years.

The national competition took place on May 3, and the North Hollywood team found it had been placed in the Curie Division. “Everybody called it the ‘bracket of death’ because it was loaded with the top teams,” Maine said. Nonetheless, North Hollywood went 5-3 on the day, with wins over teams from Ohio, Arkansas, Washington, D.C., New Mexico and South Dakota.

The losses were to a team from North Carolina and to two Northern California teams — one from Dougherty Valley High School in San Ramon, the other to defending national champion Mira Loma High School from Carmichael.

The most impressive effort, however, was in the Division Team Challenge round. Maine said the students were given a laboratory problem to work out. They had no advance knowledge of what the problem would be, and the adult coaches were not allowed to help.