NARRAGANSETT – A team of students from Narragansett High School (NHS) lived up to their Mariner namesake earlier this month by winning the Nor’easter Bowl–a regional, ocean science academic competition that is part of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB). The winning team, which includes NHS students Liam Manchester, Erin McCaffrey, Julia Highcove, Shelby Lefoley, Ryan Lonkart and Bryn Stillwell, will now join winners from 22 other regional bowls in Long Beach, Mississippi for the NOSB Finals. They are coached by NHS science teacher Sarah Krous.
“I have been coaching Narragansett High School’s Ocean Science Bowl team for 23 years but this is NHS’s first regional win,” she said. “The team’s success is due in part to their dedication to the team. The six members are a tight-knit group that was committed to representing NHS at Regionals. Their game strategy was outstanding and the countless hours of studying paid off. I am exceptionally proud of them and can’t wait to see how they do at Nationals.”
The NOSB, a program of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership, hopes to help build the next generation of marine scientists, policy makers, teachers, explorers, researchers, technicians, environmental advocates, and informed citizens by educating them in timely and relevant ocean science topics. Each year, the competition is centered around a particular oceanographic theme.
“This year’s competition theme, ‘Understanding Human, Economic, and Environmental Resiliency in the Gulf of Mexico,’ let students explore the many fascinating and complex functions of the Gulf of Mexico, America’s ‘living laboratory,’ while also connecting scientific processes to the many people who call the Gulf their home,” said a NOSB press release detailing the NHS team’s win. “From its role in regulating global ocean temperature to its importance as a home to a diverse array of flora and fauna, the Gulf provides researchers with the opportunity to study the intersections of oceanography, biology, geology, chemistry and the social sciences across both large- and small-scales.”
This year’s theme is especially relevant as 2020 marks the 10-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill — considered to be the largest marine oil spill ever. A decade later, researchers and scientists that have been studying the environmental and social impacts of the spill are beginning to take what they’ve learned and apply the knowledge to other events.
“Economically, ecologically, and culturally, the Gulf of Mexico is a valuable resource where you can really see how closely linked science and society are, so we’re thrilled that NOSB students got the chance to focus on it this year,” said Kristen Yarincik, director of the NOSB at the Consortium for Ocean Leadership. “Giving students the opportunity to learn about some of the groundbreaking research going on in the Gulf as well as the social implications of that work is key to the mission of NOSB. We want to help students become thoughtful, ocean-literate citizens who understand the broader value of scientific research, even if they don’t become scientists. Congratulations to all the brilliant students who competed this year, and we can’t wait to see all of our regional winners in Mississippi.”
Competing at the University of New Hampshire this year, the team from NHS beat out other competitors from New Hampshire, Maine, Rhode Island and Connecticut to take home the top honors. The NOSB is a “Jeopardy!”-style competition in which ocean-related questions are pitched to buzzer-equipped teams of students. The second portion of the competition includes multiple team challenges, essentially small quizzes, that teams complete in a group. In order to prepare for the tournament, the NHS NOSB team has been practicing after school, though Kraus said the team will meet more frequently in an effort to be ready for the national stage.
Many members of the winning team from NHS have been participating in the annual ocean competition for multiple years throughout high school, and bonds were formed around the competition.
“It’s bittersweet that half of the team will be graduating this year, so I’m so glad that we were able to accomplish this with them,” said Julia Highcove, a junior. “We’ve worked so hard and grown so much as a team over the last few years and I’ve made life long friendships through it. This has truly been an experience of a lifetime with the dream team. I look forward to what the future has in store for us.”
The NHS team travels to Mississippi April 16 to 19 for the national competition.