Students’ Ocean Knowledge Brings Tsunami of Success
Ten Cordova High School students participated last month in the Alaska Tsunami Bowl, the regional competition of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl. They joined 22 teams of students from around the state for the academic competition, held annually in Seward during the first weekend in February.
(By Alice Dou-Wang / From The Cordova Times) — Cordova’s two teams were the Notorious Dawgsharks, consisting of James Allen, Ben Americus, Ian Americus, Keegan Crowley, and Adam Zamudio; and Medusa’s Militia, consisting of Erin Hess, Shannon Lindow, Christina Morrisett, Sophia Myers, and Jessica Smyke.
The Tsunami Bowl has two portions: an ocean knowledge quiz bowl and a research project. The results of the research and quiz competitions are combined to determine the overall winning team, which advances to compete against winners of other regions in the national finals.
The Notorious Dawgsharks won the research competition, which includes a 20-page research paper and a 20-minute oral presentation. The team spent several months preparing their research paper, entitled “Shrinking Sea Ice, Growing Risk,” which addressed the increasing risk of oil spills in the Arctic Ocean posed by melting sea ice and increasingly trafficked shipping routes. In addition to researching the science of how sea ice is formed and analyzing data on sea ice extent, the team also researched Arctic shipping policy and oil spill response. They focused on lessons learned from the Exxon Valdez oil spill and spent many hours learning about oil spill cleanup technology, oil spill regulations, and the potential ecological and cultural effects of an Arctic oil spill. They also developed a proposed action plan to prevent and respond to Arctic oil spills.
In Seward, the team presented their research and showed a video they had made to introduce their topic and highlight the problem. The presentation was followed by a lively question-and-answer session with judges and audience members. The students earned near-perfect scores on both the research paper and oral presentation, winning the research competition.
The coaches of the winning research team were awarded grants of $500 from Alaska Sea Grant and $100 from the Scientific Research Society, Sigma Xi. The award money will be used for future NOSB activities and education materials.
Both Cordova teams performed well in the round-robin quiz bowl portion of the competition, with several close and exciting matches. The Notorious Dawgsharks placed 5th in the quiz bowl, for an overall 3rd place finish in the Tsunami Bowl. Medusa’s Militia, who elected not to compete in the research project, also performed admirably in the quiz bowl, placing ninth and coming in first in the consolation bracket.
Both teams, coached by Alice Dou-Wang and Lindsay Butters of the Prince William Sound Science Center, have met outside of school for several hours a week throughout the school year to study all aspects of ocean sciences. The students’ success is owed to their dedication and teamwork.
The University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences and the Alaska Sea Grant College Program are the major sponsors of the Tsunami Bowl. Cordova’s teams are also supported by funds from the Oil Spill Recovery Institute, BP, the Cordova Rainfall Classic and community donations.
Alice Dou-Wang is an education specialist at the Prince William Sound Science Center.