Boise aims for third-straight national science victory

Emerging young oceanographers and marine biologists from Boise High are ready to put their skills to the test at the annual National Ocean Sciences Bowl competition in April.

Even though they’re far from the ocean, the Boise High team of four seniors and a junior has won this national event the past two years in a row.

“The team is ready to compete for a third title,” said Nate Marshall, the team captain.

Pictured left to right: Karthik Mouli, Benjamin Huang, Rachel Klopenstein (Oregon State University) Tony Baca (Coach), Nate Marshall, Ade Arjona and Annie Xia.


To return to the national competition to defends its title, Boise defeated nine teams from Oregon and Idaho at the regional Salmon Bowl held at Oregon State University in February.

The 2016 National Ocean Sciences Bowl is April 21-24  at Carteret Community College in Morehead City, N.C.

“Most of what these kids are quizzed on aren’t taught in the classroom,” said Tony Baca, a volunteer coach. “The students are learning about policy on their own.”

The team practices four hours a week in a “Jeopardy” style setup that features round-robin game play and team challenge questions. The students practice answering questions about marine biology, geology, chemistry and physical oceanography, which includes waves, currents and atmosphere.

  1. What type of tidal pattern consists of one high tide and one low tide per day?
  2. Which body of water forms near Greenland?
  3. A transmissometer is used to measure?  

Answers below

“This is something quirky that I do,” said Ade Arjona, a senior on the team. “I used to be terrified of the ocean and now I’m fascinated by what the ocean offers.”

At both the regional and national level, the competition consists of buzzer-style, multiple choice questions and longer, critical thinking-based team challenge questions on ocean-related topics. Students also will participate in a scientific expert briefing component, where they recreate a congressional testimony.

In addition to the competition, the students will participate in hands-on science activities with leaders in the science field.

“One of the most incredible parts of the competition is when we get to experience ocean science in a lab, on the beach or on a ship,” said Marshall. “It really sparks great conversations with other students about the ocean.”

Last year, the team won an all-expense paid trip to Alaska and in 2014 a trip to Northern New England to conduct scientific research with local field experts.

The Boise High ocean bowl team in Alaska last summer.

“The big unknown is the strength of the competition, I think the team has a great chance of winning nationals,” said Baca. “Either way, the team will represent Idaho well.”


  1. Diurnal
  2. North Atlantic Deep Water
  3. Light transmittance in sea water

Click here for more sample questions.



Andrew Reed

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