La Jolla High School science team off to national contest

Having won at the local level, La Jolla High School’s five-member Ocean Science Bowl team is moving on to compete with 31 other teams at the national finals in St. Petersburg, Fla., this weekend.

“It is a marine science competition and these kids know thousands of ocean facts,” beamed proud mom Sara Jarvis whose daughter, Nicole, a junior, is a team member. “I am sheepishly self-promoting this as a big deal for the school. It is not often you get to compete for a national title for your high school.”

Other Ocean Science Bowl team members are juniors Ian Fong, Leslie Timms and Varun Rau and senior Tim Trahan.

Ocean Science Bowl competitors can be asked anything and everything, such as how deep is the ocean?

“Some of the questions they ask, I have no idea what the answer is and I’ve been a marine biologist for 20 years,” said David James, bowl team coach who teaches marine science and biology at La Jolla High. “It’s amazing the breadth of their (students’) knowledge, everything from vocabulary to concepts to equations.”

James said the students get a lot out of competing in the event. He does too.

“The kids really get into it,” he said. “I get to see them have fun.”

To get to the nationals, the La Jolla team had to overcome a Carlsbad High School team back in February. Each team won one contest and La Jolla High won the rubber match.

The Ocean Science Bowl is competitive, but in a wholesome way.

Said James: “The kids really want to win, but there’s really good sportsmanship too. Kids help each other out.”

La Jolla High’s team met twice weekly after school to prepare for the science bowl competitions. They developed an interesting way to study.

“I gave them research assignments where they made PowerPoint presentations where they became an expert on a few individual topics,” James said. “Then they shared that information with the rest of the team. The goal was if one person didn’t know, the team would still get the answer correct.”

In addition to the competition this weekend, there are activities for family members and competitors, including field trips, scientific presentations and tours of the University of South Florida College of Marine Science labs.

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