May 12, 2006

Sweetwater District Students Get Hooked on Ocean Science

‘Surf Bowl’ competition stimulates student interest in Marine Science

Mar Vista, Montgomery and Palomar high school students strengthened their science skills at a recent ocean sciences competition at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla.

Called the “La Jolla Surf Bowl,” the one-day regional ocean science event is part of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl. The event is sponsored by the Birch Aquarium at Scripps/UCSD. In preparation for the competition, teams participated in whale watching trips, tours of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, floating labs, scrimmages and tide- pooling trips.

Altogether, 12 teams from across Southern California and Arizona competed in a round-robin, double-elimination format, answering marine science questions prepared by top national researchers and educators. Students were tested on their marine science knowledge with rapid-fire questions in biology, chemistry, geography, geology, navigation, physics and related history and literature. The winners, La Jolla High, advanced to the national finals in Monterey, Calif.

Palomar High, a continuation school, sent four students to the competition. Students David Booker, Alex Kinghorn, Tessa Koenig and Mario Saul represented Palomar, which is believed to have competed for the first time in the competition.

“It was a great experience,” said Dr. Dennis Hong, a Palomar High science teacher and the group’s adviser. “They all got a much more in-depth look at science and what a scientist does.”

During two intense months of preparation, the underdog Palomar team studied diligently under the coaching of Hong. On the day of the competition, Palomar fought through a tough line-up of preliminary matches and successfully advanced to the playoffs.

“Even though we were ultimately eliminated in a nail-biting close match in the second round of the playoffs, David, Alex, Tessa, and Mario should be congratulated for their outstanding rookie performance at the competition,” Hong said.

The NOSB is a national competition focusing on every branch of the ocean sciences, from biology, chemistry, physics, and geology, to history—even the humanities.

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