Meet the Cordova National Ocean Science Bowl Team

Cordova High School’s national ocean science bowl team focused on ocean acidification at the recent statewide competition in February.

The “PhotosyntheSistahs”: Helen Laird, MiKita DeCook, Maya Russin, Mia Siebenmorgen-Cresswell, and Madelyn Roemhildt

Q.) We heard you chose ocean acidification as your research topic for the National Ocean Science Bowl (and won “Best Overall Research Project”!)  What led you to choose this topic?

The assignment of the research project was to design an ocean observing platform that would address a question or threat to our local community. We knew right away that we wanted to focus on threats to salmon as they are a huge economic and cultural resource in our community. From there it was an easy connection to make with Ocean Acidification and the potential negative impacts it will have on salmon and salmon prey. Ocean Acidification is a widespread and growing issue that not only affects our local community, but everyone and we wanted to address that in our research.

Q.) Tell us about the research you did, and how it fits into the NOSB competition.

The Tsunami Bowl, Alaska’s regional competition of NOSB, is unique in that it requires this project (15-page research paper and 15-minute oral presentation). After reading the prompt, we knew that a threat to our fishery would be a huge threat to our community, so that is why we picked Sockeye and Ocean Acidification. We then came up with a question that we wanted to ask about OA and salmon; we landed on, “What are the effects of OA on salmon and their prey species?” So then we needed to design an ocean observing platform that could help us answer this question. We talked about ocean observing platforms, projects, and techniques during team practices and read a lot of information online that led us to Saildrones and moored buoys. Then we turned to primary literature, online resources, videos, and team discussions to decide exactly what we wanted our ocean observing platform to do and what information we wanted to collect.

Q.) Did you first learn about ocean acidification in class or elsewhere? What curriculum or techniques helped you understand the concepts?

A) Some of us heard about OA in classes, one of us learned about it from a community talk, and one of us had never heard about it until joining this team and starting the project. The techniques that helped us understand the concepts also differ, but mostly: team discussions, self-guided research, online videos, drawing pictures and writing out equations, and the Alaska Ocean Acidification Network booklet and webinar we watched.
Q.) If you could educate Alaskans about one thing regarding ocean acidification, what would it be and why?

A) We think it is important to stress the connection between OA and the impact it is going to have on Alaskan fisheries, economy, and people. OA is a huge threat to a lot of species that we all depend on and while most people seem to understand that carbon emissions are part of the problem, they don’t understand the whole picture and the repercussions. We want to stress the link between humans and human actions to what is happening in the world right now.

Q.) Tell us about a memorable moment from the Tsunami Bowl (or preparing for it).

A). There are five of us and we all have different memorable moments! Highlights include: doing the research for this project and writing the paper, learning from other people, finishing the oral presentation at the competition and feeling really confident in how we did, learning so much about the ocean, gaining experience from the competition, our last second (literally) “Hail-Mary” buzzer play that kept us in the competition, and hanging with the “sistahs.”

Read the team’s 15 page award-winner research paper: Effects of Ocean Acidification on Sockeye Salmon.

Comments are closed.