Marine Science Hosts National Ocean Sciences Bowl

Wisconsin’s Marshfield High School Repeats as National Ocean Sciences Bowl Champs



By Vickie Chachere


ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (April 25, 2010) - Marshfield High School of Marshfield, Wis., won its second National Ocean Sciences Bowl championship in as many years Sunday, topping the field of 25 high schools from around the nation in one of the premier academic science competitions.


That’s quite an accomplishment for a team that likes to point out that there isn’t even an ocean within 1,000 miles of their school.


The four-student team coached by earth sciences teacher Paul Herder was tops after two grueling days of questions on marine sciences, wading through complex material on a range of topics from marine biology, technology, climate change and geography. The National Ocean Sciences Bowl is sponsored by the Consortium of Ocean Leadership, which represents 95 academic, scientific, government and marine advocacy agencies nationwide.


Marine Academy of Science and Technology of Highlands, N.J., placed second in the event, which drew more than 350 people to the University of South Florida’s College of Marine Science.  Over the three-day gathering, 125 students, their coaches and parents had an opportunity to learn about the latest issues in marine science, interact with world-class researchers and explore the coastal environment and marine laboratories throughout the Tampa Bay region.


“This whole competition really gives kids a chance to have fun with science, be competitive, socialize and connect with scientists,” Herder said.


The Marshfield team included the same five members of the winning 2009 crew: team captain Alex Jensen; Seth Berger; Priya Pathak; Elisa Prebble and Michael Josephson.


The students began preparing for the regional Lake Sturgeon Bowl last fall, meeting three nights a week to practice questions and studying several more hours each week individually, the students said.


“It really is a field people are learning so much about,” said Jensen, a senior who will be pursuing a degree in marine biology at the University of Maine.


The goal of the competition is to broaden students’ and teachers’ understanding of the latest scientific research on the oceans the critical impact the oceans have on global climate and weather, economics and history and culture. Teachers have used the bowl experience to broaden curriculum in biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics and demonstrate for students the interdisciplinary nature of scientific discovery while giving them an early start on the skills they will need to be scientific leaders in the future.


“We have fisheries management issues; we have climate issues; we have energy issues,” USF College of Marine Science Dean William Hogarth told the students. “We have problems to solve. But when I see you sitting in this room, I see the future is bright.”


The event gave USF’s College of Marine Science, a longtime host of the regional Spoonbill Bowl, an opportunity to showcase its graduate-level study programs, labs, technology development programs and world-class researchers to some of the nation’s brightest young scientists. On Friday, the students spent the day touring areas such as Weedon Island, Ft. DeSoto and Caladesi Island learning about the Tampa Bay coastal areas and a group of about two dozen students, teachers and USF faculty set sail on the R/V Weatherbird II to give students a taste of work and life aboard a research vessel.


The theme of this year’s competition was technology, which also gave the College of Marine Science an opportunity to showcase some of its cutting-edge tools for coastal monitoring.


“The technology is critical,” said Al Hine, Associate Dean of the College of Marine Science and Professor Geological Oceanography. “You can’t do marine science without technology.”


As national winners, the Marshfield team will spend a week aboard the 125-foot schooner, Westward, departing from Boston and run by the Ocean Classroom Foundation. Each student will also receive a $1,000 scholarship to Hood College’s Coastal Studies program and a set of FishFlips fish ID books. The coach – and all those coaches who participated – also will receive a one-year membership to the Marine Technology Society.


Second place Marine Academy of Science and Technology of Highlands, N.J., won a weeklong trip to coastal North Carolina, which will include a cruise aboard a NOAA research vessel, and other prizes.


Placing third was Mission San Jose High School of Fremont, Calif., whose team will travel to La Jolla and Catalina Island, sponsored by the National Oceanographic Partnership Program and Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Fourth place La Jolla High School of La Jolla, Calif., were awarded a Nikon Coolpix S500 digital camera courtesy of the National Oceanographic Partnership Program.


Langham Creek High School of Houston, Texas, was awarded the James D. Watkins Sportsmanship Award.


Teams placing 5th through 8th received gift certificates for scientific equipment and textbook totaling $950 from the Oceanic Engineering Society and the IEEE.



The University of South Florida is one of the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of only 25 public research universities nationwide with very high research activity that is designated as community engaged by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.  USF was awarded $380.4 million in research contracts and grants in FY 2008/2009. The university offers 232 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine. The USF System has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 47,000 students on institutions/campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.