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February 5, 2001

UCSC will host Otter Bowl competition

By Tim Stephens

The Northern California Ocean Sciences Bowl, also known as the Otter Bowl returns to UCSC this month, with teams from 14 high schools brandishing their knowledge of marine sciences in a fast-paced academic competition. The event, hosted by the Seymour Center at Long Marine Lab, is free and open to the public. It will take place in the Earth and Marine Sciences Building on Saturday, February 10, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

UCSC is one of 19 sites hosting regional competitions as part of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl.
UCSC is one of 19 sites across the country hosting regional competitions as part of the fourth annual National Ocean Sciences Bowl. The regional winners will travel to Miami in April to compete in the national finals. Winners at both the regional and national events will receive prizes, which in past years have included educational trips to Portugal and the Florida Keys, cruises on research vessels, visits to oceanographic institutions and aquaria, scholarships, and scientific equipment and books.

The competition is meant to broaden the awareness and understanding of the critical value of ocean research among high school students, educators, parents, and the public, said Carrie Cole, regional coordinator for the Northern California regional competition. The event also helps high school students interested in ocean studies to learn more about possible careers in oceanography and marine sciences, said Gary Griggs, director of the Institute of Marine Sciences.

"It's a great opportunity for high school students with an interest in the oceans to pursue those interests in an exciting and well-organized event, to come to the university and meet marine scientists, and to get some recognition for their achievements," Griggs said.

It is the kind of experience that can influence the course of a young person's life, added Julie Barrett Heffington, director of the Seymour Center. "The Otter Bowl exposes high school students to cutting-edge ocean-related research, hands-on marine experiences, the UCSC campus, and the thrill of an academic competition, and it increases their knowledge about the oceans," Heffington said.

Each team consists of four students plus one alternate and a coach. The format of the competition is similar to the game show Jeopardy, with students competing to answer multiple-choice or short-answer questions within the broad category of the oceans. Questions are drawn from the scientific and technical disciplines used in studying the oceans, such as biology, chemistry, geology, physics, and atmospheric science. Other questions will address the role of the oceans in economics, history, culture, and current events.

The judges, scorekeepers, and other officials at the event will be faculty, researchers, marine managers, and others from numerous regional institutions, including UCSC, the Seymour Center at Long Marine Laboratory, Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, U.S. Geological Survey, Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, California State Parks, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, and the Marine Advanced Technology Education Center.

The National Ocean Sciences Bowl was started in 1998 by the Consortium for Oceanographic Research and Education (CORE) in honor of the International Year of the Ocean. CORE now conducts the event in partnership with the National Marine Educators Association, with sponsorship from several federal agencies. The Northern California competition is sponsored by CORE, California Sea Grant, Monterey Bay Aquarium, the UCSC Office of Admissions, the Institute of Marine Sciences, the Friends of Long Marine Lab, the Seymour Center at Long Marine Lab, and the Southwestern Marine Educators Association.

The following schools will be represented in the Northern California Ocean Sciences Bowl:

Andrew Hill High School (San Jose, Santa Clara County)
Aptos High School (Aptos, Santa Cruz County)
DeLaSalle High School (Concord, Contra Costa County)
Half Moon Bay High School (Montara, San Mateo County)
Independent Learning Center (Woodland, Yolo County)
Lowell High School (San Francisco)
Mission San Jose High School (Fremont, Alameda County)
Monterey Academy of Oceanographic Sciences (Monterey)
Salinas High School (Salinas, Monterey County)
Selma High School (Selma, Fresno County)
Sierra High School (Tollhouse, Fresno County)
Soquel High School (Soquel, Santa Cruz County)
Watsonville High School (Watsonville, Santa Cruz County)
York School (Monterey)

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