SEWARD, ALASKA, February 2000From the mouths of babes.
Over the years, and without much success, some of Alaska's brightest scientists and fisheries managers have searched for ways to break the state's boom and bust salmon runs. Five high school students from the remote Native village of White Mountain, Alaska, may have the best idea yet.
Sounds like science fiction, but White Mountain students were absolutely serious when they suggested it during the Alaska Ocean Sciences Bowl held February 12-13 in Seward, Alaska. Freeze the fertilized eggs of salmon during years of large runs, said the students, and use them to supplement salmon runs in years when returns are small. The novel solution helped them win the research project category of the two-day ocean knowledge competition.
"Brilliant!" enthused science judge Susan Inglis, a former Canadian fisheries policy analyst who is now the director of the Alaska SeaLife Center's research programs. "These kids could really be onto something. And to think those five come from a high school with only eighteen students."
White Mountain students were among 41 students from high schools across the state to go head-to-head in a science knowledge quiz game, research presentation and art show. The event, now in its third year, decides who represents Alaska at the National Ocean Sciences Bowl finals in Washington D.C. April 14-17. Teams this year came from White Mountain, Anchorage, Juneau, Seward, Unalakleet, Chugiak, and Soldotna.
The event's second highlight was the fast-paced quiz game that tested student knowledge of marine biology, fisheries science, oceanography, chemistry, geology, physics, social sciences and technology. After several grueling rounds of single-elimination play, Juneau's "Tsunami" team emerged victorious for the second straight year. East Anchorage High School took second place in the knowledge quiz.
Juneau's knowledge quiz victory and second place standing in the research project category was enough to claim first place overall. For the win, Juneau students received a free year of tuition at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and will travel to Washington D.C. to compete against 19 other regional teams in the National Ocean Sciences Bowl finals April 14-17. White Mountain's first place win in the research presentation and fourth place standing in the knowledge quiz was all they needed for a second place overall victory. For their performance, White Mountain students laid claim to one-year tuition waivers to the University of Alaska Southeast. Chugiak High School and Anchorage East High School took third place and fourth place respectively overall.
It was an event that almost didn't happen, says NOSB coordinator Judy McDonald of the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
"Avalanches that blocked the road to Seward for over a week forced us to move the date of the competition," McDonald said. "That caused lots of headaches for the teams. For awhile, we were really worried we'd have to cancel. I'm just so thankful we were able to go ahead with it."
Avalanches weren't the only obstacles students faced on the path to the state's official ocean sciences competition. White Mountain students sacrificed the chance to watch their home basketball team compete in a regional tournament, and they had trouble raising enough money to travel to Seward. Besides the logistical headaches, students from all the teams spent months studying and rehearsing for the competition.
Three high schools participated in the juried art competition, called Ocean Connection. Some 130 pieces were entered in the art show. Taking Best of Show was "Harmonic Symbiosis," an oil pastel painting of clown fish by Missa Braund-Allen from East Anchorage High School.
The National Ocean Sciences Bowl is sponsored by the Consortium for Oceanographic Research and Education (CORE) in partnership with the National Marine Educators Association (NMEA). The Alaska regional competition is sponsored by the University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, with additional support from the Alaska Sea Grant College Program.
For more details go to: http://seagrant.uaf.edu/nosb/whatis.html
First Place Overall
Juneau-Douglas High School "Tsunami" Team
Second Place Overall
White Mountain School Team
Third Place Overall
Chugiak High School Team
Fourth Place Overall:
Anchorage East High School
First Place: White Mountain
First Place: Juneau "Tsunami"
Mayor Bob Satin's Trophy
NOSB Ocean Connection Art Show
Best of Show: Missa Braund-Allen with "Harmonic Symbiosis" from East Anchorage
Art Teacher Robert Wick was awarded a graphics tablet system from the Alaska Sea Grant College Program
2-D Black and White
Each match consists of a series of these multiple-choice toss-up questions. A team that correctly responds to a toss-up question is given a bonus multiple-choice or short-answer question. The match consists of two 8-minute halves with a 2-minute break. Each match has a maximum of 25 toss-up questions and an equal number of bonus questions.
In Alaska, coordinators have added a second component to the ocean sciences bowl: an ocean science research project, which counts for 50 percent of the total score. Students must develop a research document on a specific ocean-related question or problem. For NOSB 2000, the research project requires students to discuss the future of salmon populations and fisheries in Alaska, and to prepare a long-term management plan for the salmon resources closest to their school, considering both scientific and socioeconomic factors. The students must also give an oral presentation on their project. The written and oral presentations each count for half of the 50 percent total.
Although it does not count toward winning points, the Alaska regional competition includes a juried art show in which students are invited to submit artwork in two-dimensional, three-dimensional and mixed media. Artwork must be original and must have an ocean theme.