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La Jolla High Surfs to Victory at Ocean Competition Hosted by Scripps

Jessica Z. Crawford | March 3, 2008

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Local high school students who competed in La Jolla Surfbowl, pose inside a "shark mouth" at the Birch Aquarium.

What does “eutrophication” mean in reference to a lake?

What is the term used to describe organisms which are planktonic only in the larval stage?

These questions have you stumped?

Perhaps you should turn to one of the 80 high school students who competed Feb. 23 at La Jolla Surf Bowl 2008 at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. This one-day regional ocean science competition, part of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB), tested students’ knowledge of marine sciences with mind-bending challenges.

After hours of fierce competition, two teams from La Jolla High School bested 11 other regional high schools to face off against each other for the victory. When the final buzzer rang, only one point separated the two La Jolla High teams. Underclassmen Sam Reineman, Michael Boland, James Giammona, Ciara Lei Kamahele, and Daniel Perez will go on to represent Southern California at the NOSB National Finals in Seward, Alaska, April 25-27.

“This has been our passion,” Perez said following the win. “We spend countless hours studying. You can’t put it into words.”

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Students pose for a team picture.

The National Ocean Sciences Bowl is an educational program aimed at stimulating high school students’ interest in ocean sciences and broadening public understanding of the value of ocean research. The competition offers students who have an interest in math and science the opportunity to gain national recognition for their academic excellence. The ocean sciences competition aims to foster the next generation of marine scientists, educators, and policymakers.

“The program gives students an outlet at school that they haven’t found anywhere else,” said Randy Hudson, coach for the Dana Hills High School team, which took third place. “It gives them a sense of belonging, a sense of place, and an incredible experience.”

The regional teams competed in a round-robin, double-elimination format, answering 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.

Scripps Oceanography and the Birch Aquarium provided training and academic support for all competing teams. In addition to traditional studying, students participated in whale watching cruises, tours of Scripps research facilities, an IMAX movie night, and scrimmages.

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A student looks at an exhibit about wave formation.

“Each year we are amazed at the dedication and spirit of the students participating,” said Judith Coats, the National Ocean Sciences Bowl regional coordinator and Birch Aquarium school programs coordinator. “We believe in fostering an appreciation for the ocean sciences by putting students in touch with cutting-edge research. This program is an investment in our future and ultimately in the health of our planet.”

Approximately 2,000 high school students and educators from an estimated 400 U.S. high schools competed in regional competitions in February. Scripps Oceanography, one of 25 regional sites around the country, hosted the NOSB competition for the 11th consecutive year. Scripps graduate students, alumni, and staff participated as judges, timekeepers, and science advisors.

Regional high schools that participated in La Jolla Surf Bowl 2008:

  • Carlsbad High School, Carlsbad
  • Christian High School, El Cajon
  • Dana Hills High School, Dana Point
  • Francis Parker School, San Diego
  • Helix Charter High School, La Mesa
  • Hilltop High School, Chula Vista
  • La Jolla High School, La Jolla
  • Palomar High School, Chula Vista
  • Sage Hill School, Newport Coast
  • San Ysidro High School, San Ysidro
  • Scripps Ranch High School, San Diego
  • University City High School, San Diego


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