A team of four Canfield High School students made it to the ninth round of National Ocean Science Bowl held at Youngstown State University earlier this month. It was a first for the students who plan on a return trip next year.
The NOSB is a competition for high school students on topics related to the study of the oceans. It is a round robin, double-elimination academic tournament consisting of written and oral questions about the oceans and this year, about the Great Lakes. The event locally is the Penguin Bowl, the regional competition held at YSU in odd-numbered years and at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium in even-numbered years.
For the Canfield team of sophomore Cooper Johnson, freshman Alex Kan, senior Ben Wilson, and sophomore Alyssa Armstrong, there was a little first-hand knowledge of the event. Two team members had volunteered to work the event.
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Cooper Johnson, Alex Kan, Ben Wilson, and Alyssa Armstrong made the ninth round of competition earlier this month in the National Ocean Science Bowl held at Youngstown State University.
"Alyssa and her mother, Dr. Felicia Armstrong volunteered at the past seven Penguin Bowls and I volunteered last year," said Johnson, who served as team captain. "After I volunteered, I wanted to start a team at Canfield. After some recruiting, I got Alec and Ben to join the team as well."
Teams are permitted four members and one alternate. The Canfield team worked with Dr. Armstrong, who served as the their coach.
To prepare for the tournament, the four students had access to a special website through NOSB that offered study questions and information about the topics they would be dealing with.
"We watched many podcasts about the different topics," Cooper said. "We also watched video and we asked practice questions."
Their hard work and study went on for weeks and they said they finally felt ready when the Feb. 9 Penguin Bowl rolled around. The Penguin Bowl is one of 25 regional ocean-science-knowledge competitions in which only 16 teams of four students are tested with quick answer "buzzer" questions and thought-provoking team challenge questions. Bowl questions categories included biology, chemistry, marine policy, physical oceanography, geology, social sciences and technology. This year's quiz bowl included many questions about freshwater systems - namely the Great Lakes - which constitute the world's largest collection of freshwater lakes.
As the rounds continued, the Canfield team was undefeated until the ninth. They were matched in that round with Atherton High School from Louisville, Ky., which defeated the Canfield team and went on to win the Penguin Bowl. Atherton will now move into the national tournament in April at the University of Wisconsin. Cooper said the first eight rounds of the competition were played against seven other teams. It was starting in the ninth round that single eliminations took place.
Although the team didn't move into the national rounds, they did take home some nice prizes.
"All participants received tickets to the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium, OH WOW, Cleveland Zoo, Carnegie Natural History Museum, Carnegie Science Center, Cleveland Natural History Museum," Cooper said. "Plus, it was fun to compete with schools from other areas; it also taught as all a lot about the oceans."
Although Wilson will be graduating this June, the three remaining team members are already poised to enter next year's competition. They will only need to pick up one new member to make the team, and they can depend on their knowledge from this year's event.
The NOSB is managed by The Consortium for Ocean Leadership, which represents 92 oceanographic institutions, universities and aquaria. The NOSB was first conducted in 1998 in honor of the International Year of the Ocean. Past prizes have included trips to Panama, Costa Rica, Alaska, the Southampton Oceanography Centre in England; the Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies on Catalina Island, California; the Florida Keys; Hawaii; the Great Lakes Field Station; cruises on research vessels; visits to oceanographic institutions and aquaria; scholarships; scientific equipment and books.