Students dive into aquatic science at Lake Sturgeon Bowl
March 1, 2010
By Jennifer Yauck
Skiers have the Olympics. Football players have the Super Bowl. And Wisconsin high school students with a passion for the Great Lakes and oceans? They have the Lake Sturgeon Bowl.
Since 2002, UWM’s Great Lakes WATER Institute (GLWI) and School of Continuing Education, together with UW Sea Grant, have been hosting the annual academic tournament in which students are quizzed on their knowledge of all things aquatic. The Lake Sturgeon Bowl is one of 25 regional competitions around the country that lead to the Consortium for Ocean Leadership’s National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB). The competitions aim to raise interest in aquatic science.
This year’s Lake Sturgeon Bowl was held Feb. 6 at UWM. The evening before, students toured GLWI and saw a slideshow of scientist and Bay View resident Russell Cuhel’s first-ever scientific cruise-a 72-day excursion to Antarctica.
On tournament day, the teams, armed with game-show-style buzzers, competed head to head answering questions on topics ranging from the biology and geology of the Great Lakes and oceans to navigation and history. By day’s end, Marshfield High School secured first place, earning an April trip to St. Petersburg, Fla., to participate in the NOSB and several days of field excursions.
Marshfield is no stranger to the national competition-they’ve been the regional representative for nine straight years. They’re also the defending national champions-last year they came from behind against an East Coast team to claim the national title and earn a trip to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama.
Coming from landlocked Marshfield, Wis., the defending champs joke about being to the national ocean competition what the Jamaican bobsledders were to the 1988 Winter Olympics. But, said Marshfield science teacher and team coach Paul Herder, “I believe we showed all of those coastal states [last year] that the Lake Sturgeon Bowl and the Great Lakes are not to be taken lightly.”
Herder said the competitions increase students’ understanding of the oceans and Great Lakes and expose them to aquatic career opportunities. “The trips help connect textbooks with real science,” said Elisa Prebble, a senior at Marshfield who also was on last year’s winning team. Three students from this year’s Marshfield team are considering an emphasis in marine studies after high school, Herder said.
Herder said the competition also “recharges his batteries” as a teacher, and he encourages other teachers to start their own teams. “Life is too short not to get involved with the Lake Sturgeon Bowl-it’s a chance for some great kids to shine.”
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