By Cody Liang ’19, Brandon Kong ’19 and Jared Hwee ’19
The Midwood Ocean Science Team B, led by Ms. Kimberly Lau, overcame rough waves to place sixth against 24 other high schools in the National Ocean Sciences Bowl.
“We were tested from a variety of questions based off of our knowledge on all aspects of oceanography,” said Sonel Rubenstein ’19, an active member of the Ocean Science team. “Some of these questions covered the biological, chemical, and historical features of the ocean.”
Established in 1998, during the International Year of the Ocean, the purpose of the competition was to increase knowledge of the ocean and ocean research in the minds of high school students. In addition, the competition hopes to increase public awareness on the significance of the ocean’s ecological and economic services.
The competition offers students a chance to build their foundations in future ocean sciences related careers. It exposes them to the field at an earlier age.
Despite its name, preparing for the competition also helps strengthen abilities in general science, such as chemistry, biology and earth science.
Henry Hua ’20, an Ocean Science student, claims that practicing for the Ocean Science Bowl reinforces his knowledge of science in general.
“Ms. Lau teaches us a variety of scientific topics that really stem from our other classes,” says Hua ’20. “The things we learn in the Ocean Science class also give us more understanding on things we learn in other classes.”
The team’s knowledge was challenged by three different types of questions: toss-up, bonus, and team challenge questions.
“Everybody plays a special part in the event,” said Kathy La ’19, a substitute for the team. “For example, someone may be responsible for knowing the history of the ocean while another person is responsible for remembering the scientific names of marine organisms.”
Toss-up questions featured four active players from each team buzzing their buttons to answer a series of questions. Bonus questions are a set of short answer questions given to teams that have correctly answered the previous toss-up. Finally, teams are given two to five minutes to answer an essay-type team challenge question worth 20 points that can contain any topics from oceanography.
Fern Bromley ’18 said, “During the competition it’s honestly really intense because you want to succeed, but it’s really fun and exciting. The atmosphere is kind of tense, but within our team itself its more energetic because we all like being there.”
Though the teams did not place first this year, Ms. Lau has not given up. Learning from past competitions, she has improved her lessons to accommodate each individual member’s weaknesses. Practice is held every day after school, sometimes until period 10. The A and B team practice by simulating the competition as closely as possible, including real buzzers, a timer and sticking to the rules.
Many schools were dominated by this years B team, including Brooklyn Tech, Stuyvesant and Horace Mann. The teams have practiced extensively and have been training for months on end. Knowing each other so well elevated their game play overall.
“They’re probably the best B team I’ve ever had,” said Mrs. Lau. “I’m confident in their abilities, and I am glad to see that they themselves are motivated to try and win. I have had this team since they were freshmen, which allows me to train them to their maximum potential.”
Every student on the ocean science team has been handpicked by Mrs. Lau. Students who are chosen for the team are expected to study consistently because students must answer questions that require deep understanding of multiple science subjects. In addition to sciences, the teams are required to study pop culture and maritime history.
Ultimately, the Ocean Science team and the class’s participation in the Ocean Science Bowl was enjoyable for competitors and the audience alike.
“It was so much fun, it was the best thing ever!” Sonel ’19 exclaimed with a smile. “The food was great and I was able to meet so many different people.”
As the Midwood Ocean Science Team prepares to move onward in their quest to tackle the hardest competitions, they will also carry with them their teamwork and dedication.
“Seeing your classmates and teammates progress through the challenges is amazing, it makes you realize how hard they work for these competitions. It’s like a symbiotic relationship,” says Hua ’20.
The Ocean Science team is constantly preparing, and Mrs. Lau is incessantly searching for students who have potential and are dedicated to winning these competitions.