JDHS students win oceanography contest

Teams 'Tempest' and 'Avalanche' battle it out for first and second place

Posted: Tuesday, March 04, 2003

Juneau-Douglas High School students took first and second place at the Alaska Region National Ocean Sciences Bowl by studying two much-discussed local transportation issues.

Fourteen teams from around the state each submitted a research project, gave an oral presentation and competed in a "Jeopardy"-style quiz match, said JDHS oceanography teacher Clay Good.

The competition, held Feb. 21-23 in Seward, was sponsored by the University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences.

Team Tempest and Team Avalanche - both of JDHS - tied in the overall competition, throwing them into a sudden-death quiz match to determine the winner. Team Tempest, which examined extending the runway at the Juneau Airport, emerged victorious. Team Avalanche placed second by studying transportation links to the mainland road system.

The five students that make up Team Tempest will head to La Jolla, Calif., in April, to represent Alaska in the National Ocean Sciences Bowl finals. Team members include Chris Frank, Natalie Hale, Colin Conerton, Josh Finley and Holly Rhoden.

First-place winners receive a one-year tuition waiver to the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and second-place winners a one-year tuition waiver to the University of Alaska Southeast. The JDHS oceanography class also will receive a $1,000 prize to be used for class equipment.

Schools that participated in the competition this year were given the task of developing a plan to address problems faced by Alaska coastal communities and their surrounding ecosystem.

Team Tempest researched the environmental impacts of extending the runway at the Juneau Airport and submitted alternative plans to construct a new airport on the back side of Douglas Island.

Natalie Hale, a 17-year-old junior on Team Tempest, said expanding the runway would allow for more direct flights into and out of Juneau but would create greater impacts to wetlands and wildlife habitat in the area.

"That area is a bird sanctuary," Hale said. "It has 17 anadromous fish streams and provides a wonderful habitat for birds."

She said "bird strikes" - accidents caused by birds that fly into the jet engines of airplanes - would decrease substantially by moving the airport away from the watershed.

"(Birds) are very hazardous at the airport," Hale said.

Hale noted that moving the airport to the west side of Douglas Island, near where developers have proposed putting an 18-hole golf course, also would lessen the number of days the airport is closed due to heavy fog.

She noted 2002 had 44 heavy fog days at the airport, while there were only four near the proposed golf course.

Team Avalanche took second place in the competition with its research on road and ferry access in the Northern Lynn Canal area.

"We ended up deciding that the best way to go is to build a fast ferry between (Juneau, Skagway and Haines)," said 19-year-old Avalanche team member Neil Steininger.

Steininger said the group studied the environmental impact statement for the state's Juneau Access study to help guide its research. He said the research concluded fast ferry service would face the fewest environmental obstacles.

Team Avalanche members include JDHS students Steininger, Lou Taylor, Stephan Ashe, Colleen Windom and Philip Morin. Team Aquarius, also of JDHS, took fifth place in the contest. Team members include Heather Harris, Ben Robinson, Robyn Grayson, Kira Laliberte and Elizabeth Meiners. Harris also won the bowl's art competition.

Timothy Inklebarger can be reached at timothyi@juneauempire.com.

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