Viera High's Ocean Bowl team places ninth at nationals


Viera High's Ocean Bowl team placed ninth in a national competition. Team members include Eric Beck, left, Hannah Howe, Mitchell Necessary, Griffin Pharmer, Alex Krestan and Alyssa Hofmann.

photo courtesy of morgan woodward

Getting a chance to compete in the National Ocean Sciences Bowl finals proved to be both educational and eye-opening for a group of Viera High students.

Not only did Viera’s Ocean Bowl team finish ninth in the country out of a pool of 25 teams, but the students who made the trip to Oregon State’s campus also got a chance to see what life is like on the other side of the United States.

“It was cool because I’ve never been to the West Coast,” Viera senior Alex Krestan said. “It was a new experience, eye-opening to a different way to live there … how the houses are different; the infrastructure.

“They have trees there. Like, actual trees, not the little shrubby trees we have here.”

Krestan, team captain Griffin Pharmer, Eric Beck, Hannah Howe and Mitchell Necessary qualified for the trip by winning the Manatee Bowl, which was held at Florida Atlantic in February.

In addition to the game show-style competition, where contestants hit buzzers to answer questions, the group got to see the Pacific Ocean and learn about the different organisms that live there. They also visited tide pools and attended a career fair.

Morgan Woodard, who teaches marine sciences at Viera and served as the team’s coach along with her mother, Debbie Tweedie, and Viera High alumus Oscar Sang, said each student had to represent a stakeholder as part of the brief. For example, one student took the role of a stakeholder for the Coast Guard and offered recommendations regarding the safety of boaters around a site where wave energy is being harnessed. 

“You had to be a lot faster in nationals than you had to be in regionals,” Pharmer said. “In regionals, if you didn’t know the question, you could kind of wait for the other to get an answer and you’d have better chances of getting the right answer.

“But in this one, you had to get in first.”

Viera won eight games to reach the semifinals, and its ninth-place finish was the best by a team from their region in 10 years.

Next year’s national competition will be in Boulder, Colo. and with three juniors (Howe, Necessary and Alyssa Hofmann) and two sophomores (Danie Dowgiallo and Mason Watts).