Tacoma’s Science and Math Institute team came in second at Washington Sea Grant’s 21st annual Orca Bowl

High school teams from throughout Washington competed for the winner’s cup at Washington Sea Grant’s 21st annual Orca Bowl, promoting science, technology, engineering, math and marine studies

SEATTLE – More than 100 emerging young oceanographers and marine biologists from high schools around the state gathered around a giant inflatable orca at University of Washington  (UW) Fishery Sciences Building just moments before kicking off the 21st annual Orca Bowl competition on Saturday, February 24, 2018. Thirteen teams met to vie for a slot in the National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB), which will take place April 19-22, 2018 in Boulder, Colorado.

This year the team from Tacoma Science and Math Institute came in second, with Newport High School and Ocean Research College Academy coming in first and third, respectively. The top placed teams won hands-on marine experiences through partner organizations including Salish Sea Expeditions, Marine Science Afloat, and Seattle Maritime Academy, as well as scholarship opportunities from UW.

The Science and Math Institute team took second place at the 21st annual Orca Bowl competition. Photo provided courtesy of Washington Sea Grant.

The Science and Math Institute team took second place at the 21st annual Orca Bowl competition. Photo provided courtesy of Washington Sea Grant.

The entire event was high energy and fun. As Pablo Lopez-Hiltiken said, it’s “the excitement and enthusiasm of the kids” that motivated him to come back to volunteer for the fourth year running. But behind all the excitement is a very serious educational purpose: nurturing a new generation of marine scientists. This is vitally important as the United States and the Puget Sound maritime region contend with marine issues such as ocean acidification, climate change, fishing pressures, and other threats to the seas that sustain us.

“When you’re studying for Orca Bowl, you’re studying chemistry, erosion, air quality—you’re basically studying every aspect of the important problems that face our plant,” notes Bev Mower, coach for Getchell High School’s team. Preparing for Orca Bowl meant regularly meeting after school, often for several hours, to be in top-competition shape.

While there can only be one winner, it is clear from the competitors’ dedication that all of these high school students have bright futures. Ms. Mower said it best: “Somebody’s got to save our planet. These kids are brilliant.”

The annual Orca Bowl competition was hosted by the UW College of the Environment and organized by Washington Sea Grant. A thank you to the sponsors who made Orca Bowl possible:

UW College of the Environment
Washington Sea Grant
Joint Institute for the Society of the Atmosphere and Ocean
School of Aquatic and Fishery Science
Seattle Aquarium
Salish Seas Expeditions
Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers
Alaska Seafood Cooperative
Groundfish Forum, Inc.
Ocean Peace, Inc.
Roche Harbor Resort
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Wendy & Eric Schmidt
Deerbrook Charitable Trust
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Eastman Foundation
Shell Exploration & Production Company
Lockheed Martin
Curtis & Edith Munson
Sharon & Wayne Sternberger
Rapp Marine
Bow Seat
Leave Only Bubbles­­­­

Washington Sea Grant, based at the University of Washington, provides statewide research, outreach and education services addressing the challenges facing our ocean and coasts. The National Sea Grant College Program is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce. www.wsg.washington.edu. Join the conversation: @WASeaGrant and Facebook.com/WaSeaGrant. 

– Washington Sea Grant