The Penguin Bowl!

Participants pose with their trophy.

For the last 12 years, YSU STEM and Dr. Ray Beiersdorfer have hosted the Penguin Bowl in conjunction with the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium. No, penguins are not playing football, but high school students from Ohio, Western Pennsylvania, Western Maryland, and Kentucky are competing in a different way. Over one hundred students with their coaches and other volunteers participated in this academic challenge at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium with one team coming out on top.

This year marks the first year that a local team has won the competition. The Boardman High School team was comprised of Matt Stark, Luke Carabbia, Kaye Moyer, Megan Banks, and Jimmy Jones. Their coach, Ms. Heather Moran, could not be more proud of her team.

“They are exceptionally bright and great leaders!” says Ms. Moran. “Watching them succeed is the best part for me.”

This event is much more than a competition for area high school teams. The Penguin Bowl, which has been around much longer than the 12 years that YSU STEM has hosted the event, is part of the larger National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB). The Penguin Bowl and NOSB, which was originally started in 1998, offers students scholarship opportunities, working with other students in teams to compete in different competitions, and even a polar bear sleepover at the zoo.

“We always walk into the Penguin Bowl very prepared, but you always run into some questions that are new for us,” said Matt Stark, who has been participating in the Penguin Bowl for the last three years. “We can take a way that new knowledge and have an even better understanding of our planet’s water.”

The competition centers around a topic and the questions are styled in different ways. As a team, students will develop strategies for answering questions and getting ahead on the leaderboard. Students should be well rounded and prepared for anything the competition throws at them.

“In terms of a strategy, it all depends on the team that you are competing against,” says Matt. “If they are quick on the buzzer than you can run down time throughout the round. If they often buzz in and get the question wrong then you have a better chance, so it’s okay to sit back and be the second to buzz in.” He also offered some advice to other students who may participate in the future saying, “Don’t interrupt the question unless you are absolutely sure you have the answer. Team challenge questions are definitely the place to get the lead you need to win.”

As the winning team, the Boardman High School team will travel to Seattle, Washington in May for the National Competition. The University of Washington’s Orca Bowl will host the event and will focus their challenges on the Ocean Acidification. Good Luck Boardman!