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Young marine scientists win big at Tsunami Bowl

Submitted by Carin Bailey Stephens
Phone: 907-322-8730


Seward, ALASKA-- Phil Moser may not know where he wants to go to college yet, but he knows what he is going to study.

"Anything related to the ocean," says Moser, with a winning smile.

Moser was a competitor in last weekend's Tsunami Bowl, Alaska's regional version of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl, a day-long, rapid-fire competition, complete with jeopardy-style questions and team challenge written questions. Moser's team, Team Megatron from Juneau-Douglas High School, took second place in the competition.

The first place winners were the Naughty Nautilli, also from Juneau-Douglas. Composed of sophomores and juniors, the Naughty Nautilli were first-time competitors in the Tsunami Bowl, while Team Megatron was made up of seniors and competition veterans.

Ben Carney, a teacher at Juneau-Douglas and the coach for both teams, says this isn't the first time the Naughty Nautilli has surprised him.

"They edged out a third team led by the captain of last year's Tsunami Bowl winning team to earn the right to get to Seward," said Carney. "And then they edged out Team Megatron."

"They are talented and motivated-- a powerful combination," adds Carney.

The first and second place winners each won a one-year scholarship to the University of Alaska Fairbanks or the University of Alaska Southeast. The winning team will also get to compete in the national finals of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl, to be held in Seward in April.

This year's Tsunami Bowl drew a record fifteen teams from across Alaska, including teams from Unalaska, Cordova, Soldotna, Anchorage, Kenny Lake, Wasilla and White Mountain in northwest Alaska.

Last year, Juneau-Douglas swept first, second and third place at the Tsunami Bowl.

One team to watch out for in 2009 is this year's third place winner, Team Visceral Mass from Cordova. Visceral Mass had the best overall team record for the competition, winning seven games and only losing one. The team also beat the first and second place teams during matches earlier on in the competition. Composed of three juniors and one sophomore, the team says it will be back for next year's competition.

Cordova team coach Lindsay Butters of the Prince William Sound Science Center says that Visceral Mass was "super motivated."

"These kids were at practice every day, asking good questions," she added.

Butters said that it helped that Cordova High School started offering a marine biology course last fall. That course, and frequent interaction with guest scientists from the Prince William Sound Science Center, helped the students prepare for the competition.

In April, the national finals will be held in Alaska for the first time in NOSB history. Hosted by the UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, the finals will take place in Seward April 25-27, 2008. The event will bring 25 teams of high school students and 250 volunteers, students, judges and family members from across the U.S. to Alaska.

The Naughty Nautilli will be there, ready to compete against winning teams from around the nation.

The National Ocean Sciences Bowl was established in 1998 to encourage learning about the oceans and increase the teaching of ocean sciences in high schools. Support for NOSB is provided by the Consortium for Ocean Leadership. The regional competition is supported by the UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, Alaska Sea Grant and the North Pacific Research Board.

See competition photos and more at www.sfos.uaf.edu