In 2006, under the leadership of then-marine biology teacher Mark Tohulka, MAST Academy’s team placed fifth at the National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB). Nearly ten years later, two teams from MAST hope to reclaim their glory at this year’s competition.
On February 28, the NOSB regional competitions occur at the Manatee Bowl for southern Florida. Teams A and B will be traveling to Fort Pierce to compete. Team A is coached by marine science teacher Christina Walker, and Team B is coached by Tohulka.
Team A consists of Manatee Bowl veterans David Denmark, John Nieves, Alek Mouly, Michelle Mestres, and Ryan Winslow, who placed third in regionals last year. Members of teams A and B are also members of the Ocean Conservation Club, and have previously taken marine science.
Winslow, captain of the team and president of the Ocean Conservation club, has unmatched commitment to the success of both teams. After writing over 37 pages of questions, he distributed them to the whole team to be studied.
As the Ocean Conservation Club becomes increasingly popular, more people are showing interest in joining the teams headed to compete. However, these competitions are not for the faint of heart.
Each match–of which there are several–consists of many questions of various types, and anything slightly related to maritime is fair game. As long as the question is related to ocean sciences, it can range from geology, to history, to engineering, to chemistry.
“Last year we had to label all the parts of a kelp plant,” junior Timothy Bax, a member of team B, said.
Students heading to the competition have been practicing since school began.
In preparation for the event, they now practice in Walker’s room after school on Mondays and Wednesdays with new buzzers provided by the PTSA. Matches are simulated, while Winslow proctors.
Walker believes that this year’s teams have a great chance at success in the regional competition, especially because last year they only lost by a slim margin.
“The kids are incredibly dedicated and enthusiastic. Sometimes I have to kick them out after school because they will miss the activities bus,” Walker said.