By GREGORY ZELLER //
Hold the lemon and butter – it’s not that kind of scallop bowl.
Instead, the Bay Scallop Bowl is a regional academic competition focused on oceanic sciences, designed to test students’ knowledge through buzzer-style lightning rounds, multiple-choice questions and other team challenges.
Part of the annual National Ocean Sciences Bowl competition, the regional round was hosted Feb. 1 by Stony Brook University, with students from Mount Sinai High School once again proving the superior depth of their oceanic knowledge – in this case, oceanic knowledge related specifically to the Gulf of Mexico.
Marking the 10-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon calamity – history’s largest accidental oil spill, which gushed for 85 days and ultimately dumped 210 million gallons of oil into ocean waters – this year’s NOSB focuses its national competitors on the “human, economic and environmental resiliency of the Gulf of Mexico.”
The theme is especially relevant in 2020, according to Kristen Yarincik, who directs the NOSB program for the Consortium for Ocean Leadership, and not only as a review of the response and restoration efforts following the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
While many of the NOSB competition’s participants are clearly ticketed for careers in the atmospheric sciences, the idea of the contest is not only to train a new corps of oceanic experts. The bigger picture is underpinning the critical role science plays in society – and the crisis in the Gulf of Mexico, particularly its long-term legacy, underscores this perfectly, according to Yarincik.
“Economically, ecologically and culturally, the Gulf of Mexico is a valuable resource where you can really see how closely linked science and society are,” she said. “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,” Yarincik added. “Even if they don’t become scientists.”
Winning the Bay Scallop Bowl is nothing new for the Mount Sinai Mustangs, a perennial North Shore powerhouse that has dominated the regional competition numerous times – including back-to-back bowl titles in 2009/2010 and 2017/2018, and additional regional wins in 2013 and 2015.
But with the NOSB competition now in its 23rd year, the national title has so far eluded the Mustangs.
Coached by Mount Sinai School District Director of Math, Science and Technology Andrew Williams and longtime team advisor Glynis Nau-Ritter, this year’s Mustangs will brave those tough national waters once again. The Mount Sinai squad – including Katherine Fedotov, Aaron Angress, Arielle Mule’, Matthew Miller and Jonathon Jacobson – is scheduled to join winners from 22 other regional bowls for the NOSB finals, slated for April in Mississippi.