It’s a lazy Saturday afternoon by the beach in San Diego – what would your teenagers be doing?
On Feb. 21, more than 70 high school students chose to spend part of their weekend at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, challenging each other’s knowledge about the ocean.
They were competing in the 12th annual La Jolla Surf Bowl, part of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB). Through rapid-fire, game-show-style questions, the prestigious competition aims to stimulate high school students’ interest in ocean sciences and marine research. Nationally, more than 2,000 high school students and educators compete in regional competitions each February.
After 11 rounds – and a nail-biting final tiebreaker with Orange County's Dana Hills High School – La Jolla High School was victorious and will move on to the national contest in Washington, D.C., in April.
“They have worked hard all year, meeting several times a week at 6:30 a.m.,” La Jolla High coach Dave James said. “What I am most proud of is how they found it within themselves to not quit and kept on trying, even though they were behind.”
The 16 teams from throughout San Diego and Orange counties are smart. Very smart. Throughout the day, they answered questions prepared by top national researchers and educators on their marine science knowledge in biology, chemistry, geography, geology, navigation, physics, and related history and literature.
Each year, Scripps Oceanography and Birch Aquarium at Scripps provide training and academic support for the teams. Students also participate in whale watching cruises, tours of Scripps Oceanography research facilities, a beach clean-up, and scrimmages. Scripps graduate students, alumni, and staff participate as judges, timekeepers, and science advisors.
“Local high school students are inspired by the spirit of the competition, the people they meet, and the opportunity to become a part of the scientific community,” said Judith Coats, NOSB regional coordinator and Birch Aquarium school programs coordinator. “The La Jolla Surf Bowl lays the foundation for the oceanographers of the future. “
-- Jessica Z. Crawford