The Juneau Douglas ocean science bowl group visited the Alaska Sea Life Heart in Seward throughout the “Tsunami Bowl” in March 2023. (Photograph Courtesy of Shannon Easterly & Shelby Surdyk)
After faculty, empty pizza bins lay stacked on a lab bench in Shelby Surdyk’s science classroom. The odor lingered as Juneau Douglas Excessive Faculty’s ocean science bowl group waited for coach Shannon Easterly’s subsequent query.
“What’s the most endangered cetacean?” she requested.
One scholar fired off a collection of unsuitable solutions.
“Blue whale, sperm whale, bowhead whale.”
Easterly stopped him.
“It’s a teeny, tiny porpoise referred to as the vaquita,” she mentioned. “We don’t know for certain, however there are lower than 20 people.”
“Oh, I hate it,” mentioned Peyton Edmonds, one of many college students, displaying her teammates a vaquita on her cellphone. “That’s not cute.”
The group practices right here 3 times every week, however Tuesday was their first assembly since their win at Alaska’s “Tsunami Bowl” earlier this month. It’s a statewide ocean science competitors. This 12 months, in Seward, the varsity swept the buzzer-style competitors — the third 12 months in a row that Juneau has received.
“Relaxation-A-Shored (left)” and “Free Radicals (proper)” competed within the closing spherical of 2023’s “Tsunami Bowl. (Photograph Courtesy of Shannon Easterly & Shelby Surdyk)
The freshman group, “Yeah, Buoy,” received first place of their division, whereas A-team “Free Radicals” and B-team “Relaxation-A-Shored” confronted off within the closing spherical to win first and second place, respectively.
Carson Carrlee, captain of Yeah-Buoy, was shocked. He mentioned competing in Seward felt completely different from practices.
“Proper after faculty, while you’re very drained and you’ve got the A-team sitting proper there, you’re barely buzzing in. So it may really feel type of such as you don’t know something,” he mentioned.
Within the warmth of the competitors, that modified.
“It actually exhibits that you simply’re truly studying stuff,” he mentioned. “You’re truly beginning to change into, like, type of a scientist-ish.”
The Tsunami Bowl, which was hosted by the College of Alaska Fairbanks Faculty of Fisheries and Ocean sciences, is greater than a contest. It’s a crash course in all issues ocean science, with researchers and professionals from across the state.
The Juneau groups visited a ship simulator on the Alaska Maritime Coaching Heart, tried a tsunami evacuation drill and went behind the scenes on the Alaska Sea Life Heart.
The A and B-teams additionally participated within the analysis portion of the competitors, the place groups introduced authentic analysis papers and oral displays. This 12 months’s theme was mariculture in Alaska.
Juneau’s college students targeted on the farming of geoducks, sea cucumbers and oysters. Easterly mentioned the scholar analysis efforts are her favourite a part of the competitors.
“The buzzer is enjoyable,” she mentioned. “However that paper writing after which the chance to truly apply public talking and current your personal analysis — to a crowd of not simply your friends, however adults from everywhere in the state — is actually precious.”
The Juneau Douglas “Free Radicals” will go on to compete on the Nationwide Ocean Sciences Bowl in 2024. (Photograph Courtesy of Shannon Easterly & Shelby Surdyk)
Surdyk joined as a coach final 12 months. She mentioned that the competitors attracts college students who may not have an curiosity in ocean science initially. Some be a part of as a result of their pals be a part of. Others be a part of for a small bribe — further credit score in science class.
“Even when they don’t really feel motivated by the competitors, simply to benefit from the strategy of studying and uncover that they love science, I feel is a big reward,” Surdyk mentioned.
Carlee, a primary 12 months scholar, says he’ll positively be again subsequent 12 months.
“I really like all my different golf equipment,” Carlee mentioned. “However NOSB. You actually really feel such as you’re sensible. And also you’re studying stuff.”
And the ocean science bowl will get college students to stay with STEM schooling, Easterly says. Tuesday’s apply was proof.
“We didn’t even inform them there could be pizza. And so they got here anyway,” she mentioned.
Subsequent 12 months, Easterly will take the Free Radicals A-team to the Nationwide Ocean Sciences Bowl competitors, the place they’ll compete in opposition to the successful groups from throughout the nation.