BY JUSTINE SPORE —
The Lake Sturgeon Bowl team took second place at the state level on February 6 in the Grand Avenue Mall.
The team, made up of Monica Dix, Ananya Murali, and Maria Stahl, seniors, and Shimana Bose and Akshaya Kannan, juniors, are called “The Challengers.” A total of 16 teams participated, their homes ranging from northern Wisconsin to Illinois and Indiana. The Challengers lost to rival Marshfield by six points in a tiebreaker in the final round, after both winning and losing a match to Marshfield earlier in the day.
According to Stahl, it was exhilarating, and the team was not expecting to finish so well.
“We all went into that day thinking ‘Oh let’s just try to make it past lunchtime.’” Stahl said.
However, after the initial round-robin in the morning, the team atmosphere changed during the afternoon of the competition.
“We were in the bottom bracket, like last place, at the beginning of the second half, but then we just kept on winning somehow,” Stahl said.
“We all just pulled it together,” Dix said.
Lake Sturgeon Bowl is a trivia bowl involving information about the ocean. The competition is called ‘Lake Sturgeon Bowl’ because lake sturgeon are prominent in Wisconsin ecosystems, while Bowls in other states may have names such as ‘Blue Crab Bowl,’ based on local fish and animal species. Everything from oceanography, bathymetry, laws, history, policy, physics, currents, atmosphere, chemistry of the water and geology of the ocean is game. For example, a question might ask for players to identify animal skulls and determine their diets.
In a round, two opposing teams go head-to-head in a series of “toss-up questions,” in which each player has the opportunity to “buzz in,” and give their answer. The question is in the format of multiple-choice, and the answer was given verbally with the letters “w,” “x,” “y” or “z” to avoid confusion between the similar sounding letters “a,” “b,” “c” and “d.” If the question was answered correctly, the team receives four points and has the opportunity to complete a bonus short-answer question for an additional six points.
After six minutes of “toss-up” questions, there are two “team challenge” questions, in which each player receivedsa paper form and two to five minutes to write down an answer, turning in the team captain’s sheet for points.
Next, the “team challenge” questions, another six minutes of “toss-up” questions end the match. The questions increase in difficulty as the round goes on.
“A lot of it is using your knowledge to infer and answer,” Dix said.
To study, the team used a textbook written by Keith Sverdrup, UW-Milwaukee professor, and study guides provided by the Lake Sturgeon Bowl website. Additionally, the team made sure no individual had to learn all the information.
“We divide up the chapters in the book by members, and by topic,” Dix said.
The team is coached by Julie Cabaniss, science teacher who took over the role from Karen Gryzbowski, science teacher, this year after Gryzbowski left. However, Cabaniss cites the students’ work for their success.
“They were pretty independent,” Cabaniss said. Additionally, ‘The Challengers’ challenged the science department teachers to a game for practice, winning handily.
“We got a buzzer system from the Freshwater Science Institute, which hosts the whole thing, and they did the game a whole bunch of times,” Cabaniss said.
Cabaniss also believes that The Challengers face a greater challenge than other teams.
“The interesting thing was how well we did, compared to other schools, when we don’t have a marine biology course, or oceanography. It was just very impressive that they were able to compete against teams that maybe actually studied this stuff in class,” Cabaniss said.
The two-day event, which began on the 5th, included free admission to Discovery World and a tour of the UW-Milwaukee Freshwater Science institute for participants.
“[It’s] a big deal because they never really open their doors, and all the researchers talk to us about their projects and present,” Dix said.
In previous years, The Challengers have also been successful in competition.
“Last year was the first year Shorewood had ever done better than third place: we got second place last year also,” Stahl said.
Dix also noted the loss of alumni Gus Pendleton, class of 2015, this year.
“Last year, we had Gus, who had a lot of knowledge,” Dix said.
“Part of the reason we did so well [this year] is that we weren’t nervous going in, because we didn’t feel like we were going to do well. We were just going in and having fun,” Stahl said.
The Challengers are looking for new players, hoping to succeed again next year.
“Since three of us are graduating, we need more people,” Stahl said.
Cabaniss is optimistic for the future.
“[I’m looking forward to] more of the same. I think there’s a really good energy with this team, and even though a bunch of folks are leaving, I think the new folks coming in will continue the positive dynamic,” Cabaniss said.