16 high school teams will compete in Penguin Bowl

On Saturday, Youngstown State University will host the Penguin Bowl, a regional competition that is a part of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl.

The Penguin Bowl will begin at 8 a.m. in Kilcawley Center. High school students from Ohio, Pennsylvania and Kentucky will compete in several events to test their knowledge of marine biology.

Competitors will have to think on their feet during the Penguin Bowl in order to quickly buzz in with correct answers and work with others on team challenge questions.

Ray Beiersdorfer, a professor of geology, has been in charge of the Penguin Bowl since bringing the program, part of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership, to YSU.

While on sabbatical, Beiersdorfer volunteered with the University of Colorado Boulder’s division of NOSB. When he returned, he received a $15,000 grant from external sources.

In the first year that YSU hosted the Penguin Bowl, 80 high school students and 16 high school teachers representing 16 schools competed, Beiersdorfer said. Involvement has grown to more than 900 students.

Beiersdorfer also garnered support from the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium, as well as OH WOW! The Roger and Gloria Jones Children’s Center for Science and Technology — a new partner this year.

Matthew Balsinger, a NOSB competitor and Penguin Bowl volunteer, said that participating in the competition in 2010 as a high school student significantly affected him.

“The biggest impact that the Penguin Bowl had on my college career is that it introduced me to Dr. Ray,” Balsinger said. “He has been a very helpful mentor of sorts, encouraging me to continue to pursue a career in the sciences — a career that I might not have pursued otherwise.”

Penguin Bowl competitors will participate in a pizza party and a sleepover on Friday night.

“Probably the coolest part of my experience with the NOSB when I competed in high school was spending the night in the aquarium in Pittsburgh,” Balsinger said. “It’s a night you get to spend sleeping under fish, and the next day, you get to see if you can outsmart the other kids there. All in all, the competition is more a fun and friendly competition that fosters interest in the ocean sciences.”

The winning team at the Penguin Bowl will go on to compete against 24 other regional champions in the NOSB at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee from April 18 to 21.

Visit http://www.nosb.org for more information.