Juneau-Douglas captures science bowl

Team Steller wins statewide high school ocean science competition

25 February 2005

Contact: Phyllis Shoemaker, Alaska Regional Coordinator, 907-224-4312, fnpas1@uaf.edu
NR: SG-2005/NR220

Seward, Alaska—Having won its third straight Alaska Regional Ocean Sciences Bowl, Juneau-Douglas High School has established itself as a virtual ocean knowledge brain trust and a dynasty that's proven difficult to upset.

team steller

Juneau-Douglas High School team Steller eked out the overall win, barely beating closest rival Skyview High School in Soldotna and nine other teams during the annual statewide competition February 18-20 in Seward. The ocean knowledge competition included a report and oral presentation, and a rapid-fire, Jeopardy-style quiz.

Early on, it looked like Juneau-Douglas might not fare well this year as team Steller slipped to a fifth-place showing in the project portion of competition. Steller coach Clay Good said the team regained its composure and surged ahead during the knowledge quiz.

"What made the difference was the breadth of team Steller," said Good. "Going into the quiz, Steller was hard to beat because collectively they had a great depth of knowledge."

Good has led Juneau-Douglas High School teams to overall competition wins in six of the past eight years. This year's team Steller included students Ashley Kelly, Bekah Menze, Devon Kibby, Emily Peyton and Kelsey Potdevin. Each member of the Steller team received a one-year tuition waiver to the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Steller won the overall competition with 96.2 points. Nearly upsetting Steller was a team sent by Soldotna's Skyview High School, with 96 points. Team EZD (Euphotic Zone Depth) put forth a gallant effort, winning the project portion of the event, but missing the overall win by just two-tenths of a point.

"It was a heartbreaker. EZD worked really hard and put together a great paper and presentation that took first place," says Mark Larson. "Then to lose the overall by two-tenths was especially hard. But the students are very happy and proud of what they accomplished, and that's what counts."

Although Skyview had to settle for second place in the overall standings, their winning project earned each student a one-year tuition waiver at the University of Alaska Southeast. Coach Larson received a $1,000 classroom award from the Alaska Sea Grant College Program.

Taking third place in the overall scoring was the Cordova High School NURDS (Never Underestimate ouR Determination). The team was coached and supported by staff from the Prince William Sound Science Center.

A team new to the competition this year, the Ocean Raiders from Unalaska City High School, also had a chance at the top spot. The Ocean Raiders were in second place following the project portion of the competition. But the team withdrew from the quiz due to scheduling conflicts with their return to Unalaska.

Juneau's team Steller will go on to compete against 24 other regional champions from across the United States in the National Ocean Sciences Bowl, April 23-25, 2005, in Biloxi, Mississippi.

In all, eleven teams of high schools students from across Alaska made a bid to win the 8th annual Tsunami Bowl, held at the Seward Marine Center and Seward High School. The competition included high school students from Anchorage, Bethel, Cordova, Juneau, Noorvik, Palmer, Seward, Soldotna and Unalaska.

"I am so proud of all of the teams," said Phyllis Shoemaker, Alaska Regional Coordinator. "It was a very tight race this year. All of the teams worked extremely hard in this competition.

Teams this year faced two challenges. The first was to research and write a detailed report on the effects of climate change on Alaska's marine ecosystems and coastal communities, and to propose policy changes aimed at dealing with the problem. Work on this phase of the competition began months ago. At the competition, teams presented their findings to a panel of university scientists, who ranked presentations on thoroughness, balance, clarity and a host of other criteria. The project report and presentation accounted for 50 percent of the overall score.

Teams also were tested on their knowledge of ocean science concepts in a rapid-fire quiz. The quiz was organized as a series of round-robin/double-elimination matches. In each match, two teams compete against each other and the clock, trying to be the fastest to answer the toss-up questions.

The competition began in 1998 as a way to teach ocean science education in the nation's high schools and to encourage high school graduates to pursue careers in science. This year, approximately 2,000 students from 375 high schools will take part in the event.

Our oceans play a significant role in regulating our weather and climate as well as providing habitat for a vast array of plants and animals," Shoemaker said. "I'm hoping that the interest and enthusiasm shown by these students will increase the awareness of our oceans in their daily lives and give them the momentum to move into the study of marine science, ultimately helping to address the ocean challenges that lie ahead."

In conjunction with the ocean sciences bowl, high-school students also participated in a juried art show. Angie Hall, a senior at Skyview High School in Soldotna, won Best of Show, for her fiber art depiction of jellyfish. Additional awards were given for painting, drawing, ceramics fiber arts, mixed media and graphic design. For complete art results go to: http://seagrant.uaf.edu/nosb/2005/art05.html

Other Alaska NOSB Awards

Major support for the National Ocean Sciences Bowl comes from the Consortium for Oceanographic Research & Education, based in Washington, D.C. Additional support comes from the University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, the Alaska Sea Grant College Program, and the North Pacific Research Board. A complete list of sponsors is available at: http://seagrant.uaf.edu/nosb/2005/sponsors05.html