We often hear that the United States is losing its scientific and technical edge to other nations, and we lament the fact that our students don’t seem interested in learning about science or math. But that perception was shattered as I observed students from four watershed states and the District of Columbia compete in the sixteenth annual Chesapeake Bay Bowl at George Mason University.
The Chesapeake Bay Bowl is a regional division of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl, which tests high school students’ knowledge of the marine sciences. I had the opportunity to watch Bay Bowl competitors in action; it was amazing. These young people knew their science, from the names of the different ocean currents to the various parts of a wind turbine. They worked collaboratively to come up with the correct answers to the questions. You could almost see the “gears turning” as they raced against the clock to respond.
At noon on the day of the competition, I gave a lunchtime address on the Bay restoration effort. But I didn’t have to wonder if the audience understood my presentation. And I didn’t have to worry about the next generation of scientists who will pick up where we leave off to carry on the restoration work that began in the watershed some 30 years ago. As irony would have it, the first Bay agreement was signed at George Mason University in 1983. The work continues and this new crop of scientists will deal with new challenges, like addressing the impacts of climate change and new sources of pollution. I slept better knowing that they will be up to the task.
Stay Tuned: Are you interested in getting your students involved in the 2014 Chesapeake Bay Bowl? Be sure to check Bay Backpack this fall for information on how to participate. Teams typically are recruited in September/October, with statement of intent forms due in mid-October. Next year, the competition will take place at the University of Delaware.
While you eagerly await the next Chesapeake Bay Bowl, encourage your students to learn about the many problems facing our nation’s largest estuary on the Chesapeake Bay Program website.