One of Iowa’s two contestants at the national spelling bee in Washington, Mattias Gassman of Ames, spent this morning in a written round of the contest, in the ballroom at a Grand Hyatt Hotel in the nation’s capital. For the oral round he says they’ll sit on a stage and each step forward to the microphone when it’s their turn to spell a word. Gassman, who’s home-schooled, made it to the national competition two years ago and tied for fifteenth. He’s spent the past few weeks studying lists of potential contest words sent out by sponsor Scripps Howard.For the written-round words and the first few rounds of oral spelling, most are words you’ve heard of like “doppler,” but there are plenty of tough ones he says he had no idea how to spell. Still, the 14-year-old from Ames says it’s important to master a big vocabulary even in this age of computer word-processing and “spell-check” programs. For one thing he says you could find yourself working on a computer without spellcheck, but there are also so many words — especially in the lists for the spelling contest — that many won’t be in the spellcheck program and it’ll indicate you spelled them wrong, even if you were correct. Gassman also competed in this year’s National Geographic “Geography Bee.” Iowa’s other contestant at the spelling bee is 14-year-old Jonathan Hahn of Central Community School in Elkader. Organizers say we won’t know how the kids did on this morning’s written round until they post results after Wednesday’s second round. See details of the contest on the web, at