The Kodiak High School ocean science bowl team “Ellusive Jellyfish” took part in the 17th Annual Alaska Tsunami Bowl that conluded March 2 in Seward.
Seniors Hannah Christian and Joong Hyun Lee, junior Annie Looman and freshman Lars Bodnar took home third-place hardware behind two teams from Juneau-Douglas High School, out of 18 teams from around the state.
The Bowl centers on aquatic studies and consists of three parts; a research paper submitted by a December deadline, a presentation about the research and a round-robin quiz.
The team received first place in the research project category, a combination of the research paper and public oral presentation, as well as third in the research paper category, first in the oral presentation category and sixth in the quiz bowl bringing them to third overall.
The team’s focus this year was on the increasing jellyfish population near favorite local beaches and fishing spots. The paper they submitted for the competition was entitled “Jellyfish Apocalypse: Problems, Causes and Opportunities.” The team’s research concluded that a booming jellyfish population is not just a local issue, but also a global problem with many adverse effects on commercial fishing, here and abroad.
Team member and competition most valuable player, Christian, received the $5,000 scholarship she applied for from Icicle Seafoods, one of five the company gives away every year. Team coaches Switgard Duesterloh — a columnist for the Daily Mirror — and Jane Eisemann also received $500 to be used to help fund next year’s trip to the Bowl.
Duesterloh said the competition is the first professional scientific research experience many kids are involved with and can be a morale booster for the team every year.
“For students who want to go into the marine sciences, this is a foot in the door and it is a very important thing to go on their resume,” Duesterloh said. “It is an absolutely valuable experience for the kids. They get exposed to the real research community and for the first time in their life they write real research papers. They basically go through all the steps a scientist goes through.”
Duesterloh added that the support of the team’s families, donating time and resources, contributed greatly to this year’s success. The team was also able to visit the Seward Sealife Center during the trip, where Center scientist Dr. Russell Andrews gave them a private presentation of his own marine mammal research.
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