UHS Ocean Sciences Bowl Wins Regional Competition for First Time in UHS History

The UHS Ocean Sciences Bowl team poses for a photo at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Ruby-Ann Lopez

The UHS Ocean Sciences Bowl team poses for a photo at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Tracy Le, Staff Writer

On March 4, the UHS Ocean Sciences Bowl team won first place in the Ocean Sciences Bowl Regional Competition at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. With six other schools in attendance, UHS encountered high competition, particularly in competing against the seven-time champion Santa Monica High School.

The team consisted of captain and senior Harry Wang, juniors Maia Kopylova, Cloud Kahana and Julianne Wu and freshman Angelina Yan. As captain of a team of first-time competitors, Wang had multiple responsibilities which included organizing team meetings as he attempted to create a stress-free environment to promote enjoyment and alleviate stress going into the competition.

“Being captain meant that I hosted and led the weekly practices,” Wang said. “I would either use questions from previous years’ competitions or write my own questions, and read the questions to the team members for them to answer at the practices.”

Encompassing several disciplines from science and math to social science, Ocean Science is a subject that involves intensive preparation. All team members contributed to the preparation effort through taking practice tests and introducing various textbook questions before the competition. 

“We met each week on Sunday and practiced answering questions and training to buzz [answers in] faster,” Wang said. “As for learning the content, we used a general oceanography textbook as foundation material, and the members found deeper information from more specialized textbooks or the internet.”

As a first-time UHS Ocean Sciences Bowl team member, Kahana describes her experience during the competition.

“I feel honored to have been chosen for the team at all, but I feel like I really contributed to our success with the team challenge questions,” Kahana said. “There was a question that asked about a type of plankton that only I would know, which helped the team win a tight battle.”

Competition difficulty against the six other schools fluctuated throughout the day and would culminate in several close results as the team advanced through the competition.

“It didn’t feel too difficult at first, but it quickly ramped up as we went against better teams,” Kahana said. “We won two rounds only by a hair. In the end though, we did manage to beat the seven-year running champions in a close match. I’d say it’s a pretty hard competition.”

Ultimately, beating out seven-time champion Santa Monica High School and winning the overall regional competition for the first time in UHS history was a monumental feat for the team. Kahana describes her excitement from this year’s competition and the close relationships one can form through such experiences.

“There was this sense of community doing the competition,” Kahana said. “Whether it was bonding with my team or with the others, it was such a wonderful experience. In middle school, I was on the Science Olympiad team, but I decided not to try to get onto the high school team due to how little I enjoyed the competition. This, however, was a completely different story.”