By Nahreen TARZI
The Regional Ocean Sciences Bowl was held at Jet Propulsion Laboratory on March 15. An all-day event, the Ocean Sciences Bowl, also known as the “Surf” Bowl, tests students’ knowledge on an array of ocean-related topics. Some categories this year included the biology, chemistry, geology, geography and marine policy of the oceans. The students were given a mixture of multiple choice questions, follow-up bonus questions and short answer portions consisting of fill-in-the-blank and drawing sequences that they worked on as a team.
Arcadia High School took first place defending its previous title as champions. In an extremely close match with Lowell High School, Arcadia won by merely four points, with a final score of 78 to 74.
“It was really nerve-wracking ’cause it was a really close game,” said Kathy Lee, a junior at Arcadia High School and captain of their team.
“I studied rather intensely,” said Zev Brook, a senior and captain of the Lowell High School team. “I read a few texts books, I went over practice problems, I read Wikipedia. I just spent a lot of time on it.”
A total of 24 California high schools competed for the chance to move on to the finals in Seattle, Wash. There, the winners will compete in the nationals against high schools from around the country.
Many groups went through vigorous preparation for this tournament. Ed Guzman, a senior at Crescenta Valley High School, met with his teammates three times a week.
“Just studying for it really helps you with all your AP (Advanced Placement) classes and sciences,” said Guzman.
For their efforts, the students were given a free lunch, an ice cream break and frequent prize drawings throughout the day.
Lee explained that her team began preparing over the summer and continued through the school year, meeting at least twice a week for two hours each. They did mock-rounds and tested each other on their ocean knowledge.
Though the answers were not always clear in the matches, it was certain that all students immensely enjoyed the tournament, and saw great value in it.
“It’s really fun every year,” explained Brook. “It’s one of the highlights of my year. And I just like the thrill of doing it, and learning. I learn during the competition and before.”
In addition to prestige and competing in the nationals, the winning students are also able to add this to their college applications. But many students see it as more than just bragging rights.
“It’s taught me so much more than just about ocean science specifically,” explained Brook. “I generally [learned] how to be a team player. It taught me a lot about leadership, about interacting, and how to be gracious both when winning and losing.”
Guzman also sees the Ocean Science Bowl as more than just a fun tournament.
“You get a lot of resources. You can ask some of the professors, which are from USC and Caltech, about their careers, and maybe internships.”
The Ocean Sciences Bowl is in its 15th year in Los Angeles. The event is run by Kim Lievense, manager of the Public Services Office at JPL, who also coordinates the Science Bowl, the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition, and the JPL Invention Challenge.
Some of the coaches have also been volunteering their time to the students for many years. And just like the coaches and coordinators, countless students plan on returning next year, including Kathy Lee.
“There’s a lot more to oceanography than one would think,” said Lee, “and just by doing this you may find something you really want to do in the future.”
More information can be found on www.jpl.nasa.gov/events/team-competitions.php.
Note: A correction was made online of the spelling of Kim Lievense name.