Thanks to COVID-19 vaccines, the members of the New Squids on the Dock were able to gather and look over the hardware they won in the Tsunami Bowl, a regional ocean science academic competition. The team from Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé  is now busy preparing for the upcoming national competition. From left to right, team members include Elin Antaya, Jack Marx, team captain Tias Carney, Adrian Whitney and Addy Mallot. (Courtesy photo/Shannon Easterly)

Swimming in the intellectual deep end

JDHS NOSB team prepares for the national competition

The sun may be shining, but members of the New Squids on the Dock, the National Ocean Sciences Bowl team from Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé might not have time to notice.

After clinching the top spot at the Tsunami Bowl, a regional ocean science academic competition, the team is preparing to face off against winners from the 20 other regional bowls for national honors. The Consortium for Ocean Leadership sponsors the competition.

“We are most worried about teams with similar knowledge set to our students, like other Pacific Northwest teams,” said Shannon Easterly, the team’s coach. “East Coast teams are a whole different ball game because they know all different things.”

JDHS students win regional ocean science competition

Team members are excited and anxious as the competition draws near.

“We’re feeling a little intimidated by the national competition. There are many private schools and public schools designated to just oceanography and marine sciences. However, we have worked hard this year and still anticipate doing well,” said team member Adrian Whitney, who said he joined the team because of his interest in different fields of science. “Living so close to the water makes it really easy to get involved with marine biology and oceanography,” he said.

“As nationals approach, I am very excited for the opportunity to compete against teams from all around the country. I look forward to facing all of the different teams in the quiz rounds,” said team captain Tias Carney.

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About the competition

The finals include two phases. The first involves preparing for and participating in a mock congressional hearing as a science expert.

To prepare for the mock briefing, the team is assigned a piece of proposed legislation to review. Each team member writes 300-500 words representing the opinion of a different agency and presents the findings to a panel of judges in a mock hearing.

“This year, the bill we are looking at was drafted by Senators Sullivan and Murkowski, so we have a little home-field advantage,” Easterly said.

The mock briefing will occur via Zoom on May 8, as all competition is taking place virtually due to COVID-19-related restrictions on in-person activities.

Once the team clears that hurdle, they will return to studying for the quiz element, but with a twist due to this year’s virtual format. Points will be tallied to determine a winner rather than the traditional first-to-the buzzer format.

“Whoever comes out on top wins. It’s unfair to go head-to-head due to internet access,” Easterly said. “It worked really well during the Tsunami Bowl.”

The quiz bowl portion begins May 15, and Easterly expects the winner to be announced by May 16.

Typically, the top three teams win a trip to see marine scientists in action. Past winners have visited the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego.

However, with COVID conditions changing so rapidly, the prizes for the winning teams have not yet been announced.

• Contact reporter Dana Zigmund at dana.zigmund@juneauempire.com or 907-308-4891.

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