Santa Monica High School performed swimmingly at the 17th annual Los Angeles "Surf Bowl," claiming first place at the regional Ocean Sciences Bowl competition on Saturday, Feb. 27. The event was held at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
Undefeated in a challenging daylong tournament, Santa Monica won against teams from 11 other schools in the Los Angeles area. The winners will travel to Morehead City, North Carolina, to compete against dozens of other regional winners at the National Ocean Sciences Bowl in April.
"I'm really excited. Half of our team was here last year, and we placed second, and it was really close, so we're really excited to be able to go to Nationals this year," said Rowan Cheung, Santa Monica's team captain and a senior at the school.
Questions at the regional event covered biology, chemistry, geology and physics of the oceans, as well as navigation, geography and related history and literature. Students from many teams showcased an impressive depth of knowledge of these topics.
In the final round, Santa Monica faced tough competition from University High School of Irvine, which had bested third-place winner Woodbridge High School of Irvine. University had the lead against Santa Monica in the final portion of the last round, after both teams turned in their written answers to a set of word problems known as team challenge questions. Because of the "double-elimination" format, University would have needed to beat Santa Monica in an additional round in order to win the day.
With the final round about to run out of time, Santa Monica slid into first.
"It came down to the last question and we pulled through," said Rhys Gaida, a junior who delivered the team's final correct answer.
"We worked really hard for several weeks in a row, practicing after school, and studying tons, so it was really cool for the kids to see it all pay off," said coach Ingo Gaida, who is also Rhys's father.
The competition aims to engage students in ocean science and 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.
News Media ContactElizabeth Landau
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.