Chesapeake Bay Bowl champions from Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology compete in the final round at the Hugh R. Sharp Campus in Lewes.

Chesapeake Bay Bowl

Delaware Sea Grant promotes interest in marine science among high schoolers

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10:17 a.m., Feb. 5, 2014--Budding marine scientists demonstrated an ocean of knowledge at the annual Chesapeake Bay Bowl in Lewes, Del., on Feb. 1, vying for a spot at the national competition in Seattle this spring. 

Held at the University of Delaware's Hugh R. Sharp Campus, the regional quiz bowl brought together 60 top science students from 12 high schools in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. Students answered questions spanning oceanography, geology, biology, geography, social science, marine policy and chemistry.

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Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Va., took first place after an intense day of tackling multiple choice, short answer and written questions in rapid response.

“We’ve always come really close,” said Comfort Sampong about her school’s performance in recent years, celebrating this year’s win with teammates Christopher Chen, Jared Nirenberg, John Christopher Panagides and Rachel Zoll. “It feels good to finally be on top.” 

Squaring off against State College (Pa.) Area High School in the final round, the competitors were expected to know details about seafloor sediments, maritime law, tidal dynamics, fish migration and other topics that would have challenged many adults — especially on the clock. 

The teams spent hours preparing for the bowl, with most having already taken biology, chemistry and marine science. 

“It’s neat to watch them work together outside the classroom,” said Bill Geppert, who coached a team from Cape Henlopen High School in Lewes. 

All participants were given the opportunity to look behind-the-scenes at the University of Delaware’s Lewes campus, which houses world-class marine science facilities. Students toured the research vessel Hugh R. Sharp, oil spill recovery vessel DELRIVER and Cannon Laboratory. Teams that did not advance to the final competition rounds were invited to a special presentation by UD scientists about a recent Norwegian excursion to study Arctic marine life.

The competitors hold promise for one day conducting such research themselves. Thomas Jefferson coach Lisa Wu said a number of her students who previously competed have gone on to graduate school in the field of marine science.

In the meantime, Wu’s team will head to Seattle in May to compete in the National Ocean Sciences Bowl finals at the University of Washington. The national competition is sponsored by the Consortium for Ocean Leadership to encourage student interest in pursuing a college degree and future career in the ocean sciences. 

Chesapeake Bay Bowl top four finishers:

1st place: Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Vienna, Va.

2nd place: State College Area High School, State College, Pa.

3rd place: Woodrow Wilson High School, Washington, D.C.

4th place: Montgomery Blair High School, Silver Spring, Md.

The following schools also competed: 

Archmere Academy, Claymont, Del.

Cape Henlopen High School, Lewes, Del.

Newark Charter High School, Newark, Del.

Liberty High School, Eldersburg, Md. 

Lower Dauphin High School, Hummelstown, Pa. 

Potomac Falls High School, Potomac Falls, Va.

Governor’s School at Innovation Park (A), Manassas, Va.

Governor’s School at Innovation Park (B), Manassas, Va.

Chesapeake Bay Bowl sponsors

Chesapeake Bay Bowl sponsors included Delaware Sea Grant, the University of Delaware College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, National Aquarium, Consortium for Ocean Leadership, George Mason University, Mid-Atlantic Marine Education Association, Chincoteague Bay Field Station, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Under the Sea, Kevin Fleming Photography, Be the Bay, Maryland Sea Grant, L Town Surf and Earth Company and National Marine Educators Association. The event was supported by dozens of volunteers from around the region.

“The teams were amazing and the excitement really did build as we moved into the afternoon semi-finals and finals,” said Nancy Targett, director of Delaware Sea Grant and dean of UD’s College of Earth, Ocean and Environment. “What a great day for these students!”

Part of Delaware Sea Grant’s mission is to increase environmental literacy and ocean awareness in elementary through high school students. Next year’s Chesapeake Bay Bowl will take place at George Mason University.

“The students and volunteers work very hard in preparing for this single day. I’m excited to see how well it all came together and how much fun everyone had in the name of ocean science,” said event organizer Chris Petrone, marine education specialist with Delaware Sea Grant.

About Delaware Sea Grant

The University of Delaware was designated as the nation’s ninth Sea Grant College in 1976 to promote the wise use, conservation and management of marine and coastal resources through high-quality research, education and outreach activities that benefit the public and the environment. UD’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment administers the program, which conducts research in priority areas ranging from seafood safety to coastal hazards.

Article by Teresa Messmore

Photos by Lisa Tossey

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