By Tamas Mondovics

The topic of marine science took center stage at the USF St. Petersburg Campus, Science and Technology Building (STG) late last month as dozens of high school scholars competed in the 2013 Regional National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB) Spoonbill Bowl.

While students and teachers from the 14 high schools in the region with a strong interest in and knowledge of marine science sported their skills, it was the Durant High School team, led by science teacher, Kelly Cook, that walked away with the title victory.

“We’re extremely proud of the team and fully expect them to represent Durant very well,” Cook said. “This will be the fourth time Durant has qualified for the national competition; in fact, of the nine years of the Spoonbill Bowl’s existence, our school has been the national representative four times. No other school has represented more than twice.”

Winning the event, the five-member Durant team including seniors Macie Jones, (team captain), Jamie Neylan and Ricardo Areingdale, along with sophomore Chris Springfield and junior Eduardo Areingdale, have earned the chance to compete against 24 other regional champions in the 16th Annual National Ocean Sciences Bowl at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee scheduled for  April 18-21 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

In 2013, approximately 2,000 students from over 300 high schools will participate in the competition nationally.

During the competition, the students were tested through quick-answer buzzer questions and thought-provoking team challenge questions, which takes a toll on the nerves at the start.

“Once the competition gets going, the students start gaining confidence, ”Cook said, adding that the Durant team did an excellent job working together and answering a constant lead.

Cook emphasized that the most challenging part is finding time to practice for the competition with the students’ other extracurricular activities and that the key to a great NOSB team is having a blend of students with different strong subject backgrounds whether it be chemistry, physics or biology.

“The other key is strategy and confidence in hitting your buzzer,” she said.

Mid-way through the contest, Cook told the students that if they won the entire competition, she would jump into Tampa Bay.

Not going back on her word, at the end of the day Cook made good on her promise and took the plunge into Tampa Bay.

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