Arcadia High School Team at the Ocean Sciences Bowl

Arcadia High School took first place at the Ocean Sciences Bowl regional competition at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, on Feb. 28.

The team consisted of four main players, an alternate and a coach. They beat out 11 other teams from California high schools, and won a trip to the National Ocean Sciences Bowl finals in Ocean Springs, Mississippi from April 23 to 26 at the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast Research Laboratory.

A team from Santa Monica High School won second place, and Francisco Bravo Medical Magnet School, Los Angeles, came in third.

Questions touched upon biology, chemistry, geology and physics of the oceans, as well as navigation, geography and related history and literature. A variety of aquatic facts -- such as, which of the Great Lakes is the deepest and coldest (Lake Superior) and how many seaports are in the United States (361) -- arose in the final rounds.

This is Arcadia's third year in a row winning the regional "Surf Bowl." It's clear that students take it seriously: Arcadia captain Kathy Lee, a senior said her team meets for two hours twice a week to practice throughout the year. "We have our own buzzer set," she said.

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The Arcadia High School team at JPL

Arcadia High School triumphed at the National Science Bowl regional competition at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The event was held Jan. 31.

The team, consisting of four main players, an alternate and a coach, reigned supreme against 23 other teams from Southern California. Team members earned a trip to the National Science Bowl finals in Washington, which will be held April 30 through May 4.

The format of the competition resembled a fast-paced game show, with students buzzing in to answer questions at the college freshman level. They were not permitted to use calculators or notes. The questions spanned various topics in Earth and space sciences, including astronomy, biology, chemistry, physics and math.

Contestants at JPL proved themselves quick-witted in a wide range of questions - for instance, knowing that 1,600 + 81 makes a perfect square. Many people in the audience were awed whenever students buzzed in with correct answers before the announcer had finished asking the question.

The second-place team, from Dos Pueblos High School in Goleta, gave the Arcadia team a suspenseful challenge as the competition neared its end. The two teams tied at 82 points at one point, resulting in a tiebreaker that Dos Pueblos won. But Arcadia made a comeback in the very last match. Santa Monica High School placed third.

All members of the Arcadia team are high school seniors, and all said that they want to pursue mathematics, science or computer science in college. One team member, Chris Chi, already works in a biology lab.

"We all do a lot of science in our spare time," said Kevin Wang, captain of the Arcadia team.

The National Science Bowl is designed to inspire students to pursue careers in science or math. Over the 24-year history of the competition, about 240,000 students have participated. JPL, managed for NASA by the California Institute of Technology, has hosted the regional Science Bowl for 23 years.

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Arcadia High School's 2014 Ocean Bown team

They came from all over the Golden State, from San Francisco to San Dimas -- 24 teams of five students -- to compete in the 15th annual JPL-sponsored regional Ocean Sciences Bowl, a "Jeopardy"-style competition. The event was held over 13 hours on Saturday, March 15, at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

The round robin-style "Surf Bowl" featured multiple choice questions and longer, critical thinking-based team challenge questions on ocean-related topics.

At the end of the long day, it was northern California vs. southern California - Arcadia High School vs. San Francisco's Lowell High School. San Francisco hadn't lost a single round in the double-elimination tournament. So in essence, if Arcadia were going to win, they'd have to beat their northern competitors twice, which is exactly what they did to not only win, but also defend their regional title.

"Since we won here last year, we were really looking forward to this weekend and retaining our title," said Arcadia captain Kathy Lee. "Most of our team from last year graduated, so this was mostly a new team and we were really eager to show that we could defend the regional title. And now we're looking forward to defending the national in Seattle, which we won last year."

Taking third place in the competition was Santa Monica High School, while Woodbridge High School won the Good Sportsmanship Award.

The competition was developed to foster the next generation of marine scientists, researchers and environmental advocates. The National Ocean Sciences Bowl is a program of the nonprofit Consortium for Oceanographic Research and Education, based in Washington, D.C.

Prizes consist of trips to Catalina Island to visit the Wrigley Marine Science Center, part of USC's Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies.

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TAGS: Ocean Bowl, Team Competitions, High School, Arcadia High School