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Mount Sinai High School students win first place at Bay Scallop Bowl

Mount Sinai High School?s first-place Bay Scallop Bowl

Mount Sinai High School’s first-place Bay Scallop Bowl team, from left: Julia Eberhard, Patrick McKeown, Ethan Donowitz, Camille Jwo, Nicholas O'Mara and coach David Chase. (Feb. 16, 2013) (Credit: Brittany Wait)

Just before the 12th annual Bay Scallop Bowl was scheduled to take place on Feb. 9, a blizzard buried Stony Brook University in 30 inches of snow, postponing the science competition a week.

But that didn’t phase Nick O’Mara and the rest of the Mount Sinai High School science team. A week later, on Feb. 16, they placed first.

“We were disappointed, but that didn’t slow us down,” said O’Mara, 17, the team’s captain. “I just looked at it like we had another week to study.”

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His team — including Patrick McKeown, 16; Ethan Donowitz, 17; Camille Jwo, 17; and Julia Eberhard, 16 — beat 15 other high schools from the New York area at the Bay Scallop Bowl, which serves as the regional qualifier of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl.

Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences hosted the event. School faculty posed questions that tested students’ knowledge of physical oceanography, biology, chemistry and marine policy through buzzer questions and team challenge questions.

For example, explained O’Mara, one of the questions he received was, ‘What is the name of the western boundary current in the North Pacific Ocean?’ with possible answers, W: Benguela, X: Somali, Y: Kuroshio, or Z: East Australia.

O’Mara correctly answered Y: Kuroshio.

Kim Knoll, a staff assistant at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences who was co-coordinator of the competition, said the Bay Scallop Bowl gives students a better understanding of oceans and coastal resources and puts what they learn in classes to the test.

“They work so hard and they’re very brilliant,” she said. “I sit there in awe at how fast they answer questions on the fly and are quick to hit those buzzers. It’s impressive.”

Each February, regional competitions are held at 25 locations across the country.

The winning team from each of the 25 regional competitions will be provided a paid trip to the finals April 18-21 at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

As the winner of the regional competition, each member of the Mount Sinai team received $1,000. The grand prize for winning in Wisconsin is a multi-day trip to oceanographic laboratories around the country for the team.

Before finals, the Mount Sinai students said they are brushing up on terms and questions and quiz each other during two-hour study sessions held four days a week, including Sundays.

Mount Sinai High School has won seven of 12 Bay Scallop bowls, but the team’s coach, David Chase, said this year’s team might be the best he has coached.

“This team has all the materials covered and each person has their own strengths,” said Chase, a science teacher at the school. “We’ll be competing against the best of the best, but if we work hard we have a chance of winning.” 

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