The student team from Dougherty Valley High School sailed away with a victory at the finals of the 24th annual National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB) last weekend after demonstrating their superior understanding of ocean sciences.
This marks the first time the San Ramon school has won the national competition. This year's theme, "Plunging into Our Polar Sea," tasked students with learning about the scientific processes behind and consequences of the changes taking place in the Arctic and Antarctic.
"Each year when finals rolls around, NOSB students impress me again and again with the skills and teamwork they demonstrate, from their ability to make connections between seawater chemistry and global climate history to the sportsmanship they show their fellow competitors," said Rear Adm. Jon White, president and CEO of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership, which organized the competition.
“Polar science is one of the most important -- and rapidly changing -- fields within Earth science, and NOSB students rose to the challenge of studying it with the dedication and enthusiasm I’ve come to admire from these future ocean leaders," White added.
"Congratulations to our winners and to all teams who participated in our regional bowls and at the national level, and many thanks to all of this year’s numerous volunteers who made this challenging, virtual NOSB a tremendous success."
Students on Dougherty Valley's championship team includeed Venkat Ranjan (captain), Harish Balasubramanian, Prayrak Bajaj, Danial Zhu and Bryan Yan, who were supported by coach Karen Dennis.
An ocean science education program by the consortium, NOSB is an annual competition that tests students' knowledge of ocean science topics, including cross-disciplines of biology, chemistry, policy, physics and geology.
This year's tournament went virtual due to the coronavirus pandemic, with students competing during a season that culminated with a week of online competition, mentoring and interactive field trip events as part of finals.
More than 210 teams -- nearly 1,050 students representing nearly 30 states -- participated in this year's program, which saw students answer buzzer-style multiple-choice questions and compete in open -ended challenge questions.
Targeted toward teaching students about the vulnerable ecosystems of the Arctic and Antarctic, this year's theme also highlighted the "Multidisciplinary Drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate," or MOSAiC project. Active from 1893-1896, the MOSAiC project was an international research expedition that included having a research vessel frozen in sea ice for a year in order to study the Arctic.
“The NOSB has always been about more than just memorizing facts, and this year’s competition theme really gave NOSB students the opportunity to build on their knowledge of ocean systems and make connections to larger social and political challenges, such as how to prepare for the impacts of climate change, including safely taking advantage of economic opportunity that may arise from climate change such as was considered in their SEB testimony," NOSB program director Kristen Yarincik said in a statement.
"The most pressing scientific questions of our time come from the Arctic and Antarctic, and it will take thoughtful, dedicated individuals -- like those who compete each year in NOSB -- to unravel and answer them,” Yarincik added.
This year’s award experiences will also take place virtually, with the top four teams receiving exclusive opportunities to talk to leaders in the ocean science community about ocean issues, their career paths and more.
As the programs champions, Dougherty Valley's team will have the opportunity to receive mentorship opportunities from Jyotika Virmani, executive director of Schmidt Ocean Institute.