Mount Sinai Wins Bay Scallop Bowl—Again
Education - News


Barbara A. Branca, NY Sea Grant, P: 631.632.6956, E:

On February 16, 2013 on the Stony Brook University campus, Mt. Sinai High School’s top notch team captured its seventh win in the 12th Bay Scallop Bowl, an annual, regional ocean science competition.  Mt. Sinai will compete against 24 other championship teams from around the country in the late April Annual National Ocean Sciences Bowl in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  

At the Bay Scallop Bowl, 16 teams from around the state faced a day of quick answer buzzer questions and thought-provoking team challenge questions about the marine environment. After the end of the written challenge questions in the final round, Farmingdale HS was ahead 34 to 33, but Mt. Sinai came back strong in the final buzzer round, keeping Farmingdale at bay and winning 55 to 34. Great Neck High School South placed third. Stiff competitor and last year’s winner, Bronx High School of Science, was out early in the day, losing to Longwood High School.  Also out of the running early was an upstate team, Churchville-Chili. Both those teams have been regional winners several times in past years.

The Mt Sinai win was a sweet one, maybe bittersweet for some. For Captain Nicholas O'Mara, it ends his four years of competing in the Bowl, having started as a freshman. "I love the ocean, and being in the Bay Scallop Bowl has definitely steered me on my chosen career path,” said an emotional O'Mara at the end of the competition.  As Mt. Sinai’s class of 2013 Valedictorian, he’s planning to major in environmental science with a focus on policy, followed by law school.

With hearty hugs all around, the team is like family. In fact, it is family. As the blizzard on February 9 caused a week’s postponement, one of the teams dropped out, leaving a slot for a “B” Team. Mt Sinai won the slot, so Coach David Chase brought his wife Kathy to cheer on the second string which made a good showing and gave the younger players some good experience.

Junior Julia Eberhard will be next year’s Captain. Her younger brother Nicholas was on the “B” team, while her older brother David, a Bowl alum, is now an engineering major at Stony Brook University. Captain O’Mara’s younger brother Danny was also on the B team.

Elliot Kurtz, a 2009 Mt Sinai grad and a senior marine science major at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS) spent four years on the Mt. Sinai Bay Scallop Bowl team and now volunteers each year at the Bowl. The team experience helped him define specific academic goals. Now he’s part of the marine science community and is headed to grad school.

The Bay Scallop Bowl would not be able to take place without the coordination and support of many. Katelin Childers, a SoMAS graduate student who led the volunteers was grateful and appreciative of all who showed up—especially after the blizzard that caused the event’s postponement. The event owes much to master organizer, Kim Knoll and Master of Ceremonies Bill Wise from SoMAS.

In his opening remarks to all the high school teams, SoMAS Dean Dr. Minghua Zhang said “I invite you to attend Stony Brook University if you are interested in oceanography, climate science, or fisheries.”  He reminded them that there are also summer intensive programs at the Stony Brook Southampton campus they might enjoy.
New York Sea Grant director, Dr. James Ammerman, a cosponsor of the event, said, “New York Sea Grant supports practical research and has extension specialists who are experts in many marine science fields.” Over the last several decades NY Sea Grant has helped over 700 students earn a graduate degree.

Karen Chytalo, Maureen Davidson, and Lisa Tettlebach are all scientists who work for the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation and have been volunteering at the Bowl for years. Says Ms. Chytalo, “It’s all about seeing these bright kids.”  Adds Ms. Davidson, “I love any opportunity to push the kids into science!”

The Bay Scallop Bowl is part of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB), a program of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership based in Washington, D.C.  The NOSB strives to encourage the next generation of marine scientists, policy makers, teachers, explorers, researchers, technicians, and informed citizens to be stewards of the ocean.  Many past NOSB participants have pursued college degrees and careers in ocean science.  

According to Scallop Bowl alum Kurtz, the questions are more and more challenging compared to when he competed. This year there seemed to be more on marine policy. So it’s not just content knowledge that the competition is about. It’s about how science-based information goes into wise decision making about our marine environment. Because the questions are written well advance of the Bowl, there were no questions about Hurricane Sandy.

Wait till next year.

— Barbara Ann Branca, New York Sea Grant

Mt. Sinai team celebrates its 7th win in 12 years of the Bay Scallop Bowl competition. From left to right:  Julia Eberhard, Patrick McKeown, Ethan Donowitz, Camille Jwo, Nicholas O'Mara (team captain) and Mr. David Chase (coach). Photo credit: Joe Dlhopolsky        

Mt. Sinai captain Nicholas O’Mara, class valedictorian, led his team to victory at the 2013 Bay Scallop Bowl. Photo credit: Barbara Ann Branca

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New York Sea Grant (NYSG), a cooperative program of Cornell University and the State University of New York, is one of 33 university-based programs under the National Sea Grant College Program (NSGCP) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The NSGCP engages this network of the nation’s top universities in conducting scientific research, education, training and extension projects designed to foster science-based decisions about the use and conservation of our aquatic resources. Through its statewide network of integrated services, NYSG has been promoting coastal vitality, environmental sustainability, and citizen awareness about the State’s marine and Great Lakes resources since 1971.

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