COLOMA — El Dorado County elementary school students spent many hours prepping for the 29th annual Nature Bowl Semifinals held at Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park on two separate days.
“This is a real good way of bringing students together from all over the county to celebrate their knowledge of science and nature. It’s almost like a giant science fair, but nature related,” said Lindsay Raber, environmental educational specialist for the American River Conservancy who helped out with the Nature Bowl.
“There is a lot of learning going on. Some of it is problem solving, some of it is with a team effort,” said Bruce Forman, program manager for the California Department of Fish and Game who started Nature Bowl in 1985.
During the Nature Bowl, the teams created enviro-mercials — short skits, jingles or commercials about environmental topics and issues.
“They made a commercial about a hot topic, or about making a proposal of what they want to see changed,” Raber said. “The kids get to choose something they are passionate about.”
Another way the students broadened their science knowledge was playing charades. The acting game had one employee from the conservancy act out a word or phrase that was science related, and the students guessed the word or phrase.
The students had to figure out types of foods that animals eat or how animals walk or run.
Lynn Howard, fourth grade teacher at Lake Forest School in El Dorado Hills, said her students were extremely excited about competing in the Nature Bowl. She said her students had been well-prepared in the classroom to demonstrate their knowledge of the environment at the Nature Bowl.
“It’s a culmination of all the work that they’ve put into preparing for the Nature Bowl for the last two months,” Howard said. “They’ve learned so much and now it all came together. The things they have learned will carry them through high school. It’s really a valuable experience.”
Howard pointed out that before the Nature Bowl, her students became excited in wanting to learn more about the local environment. At the bowl, the students displayed school pride by wearing blue T-shirts that had the words “Lake Forest Nature Bowl” on the front.
Each student’s responsibility was to research one particular area of the environment.
“They became sort of like experts,” said Howard.
Howard was also pleased that her students learned about team work.
“As you prepare them, you teach them the different parts of the nature,” said Marlaine Reilly, who served as an environmental coach for Howard’s class.
The winners from the semifinals advance to the state finals on May 18 at California State University, Sacramento, Raber said.
On the first day of the Nature Bowl, the third/fourth grade team from Silva Valley School in El Dorado Hills and the fifth/sixth grade team from the California Montessori Project in Shingle Springs advanced to the state finals.
Members of the Silva Valley Elementary team were: Dawson Wilkins, Enrique Soto, Kaleb Costello, Madeline Cox, Madelyn Rhyan, Matt Soetaert and Myles Costello. Nora Winkler is the coach.
Members of the California Montessori Project team were: Jordan Freer, Quinn Carrol, Meg Dockter, Andrew Filipich, Evan Riseman and Robbie Dietz. Keely Carroll is the coach.
Other schools competing on the first day were: California Montessori Project third/fourth grade team; American River Charter School in Georgetown third/fourth and fifth/sixth grade teams; Pinewood School in Pollock Pines third/fourth team; Silver Fork School in Kyburz fifth/sixth grade team; Pleasant Grove Middle School in Rescue, fifth/sixth grade team; Jackson School in El Dorado Hills fifth/sixth grade team; and the Wildcats, a home school team in El Dorado County, third/fourth grade.
Members of the Pinewood team were: Hunter O’Neil, Holly Ferdon, Matthew Adams, Tyler Cook, Isabella Darwin and Anthony Worthy. Barbara Simpson is the coach.
On the second day of the bowl, teams that qualified for the finals were the third/fourth graders from Lake Forest School in El Dorado Hills and fifth/sixth graders from Miller’s Hill School in Latrobe.
Members of the Lake Forest team were: Jessica Dean, Alex Dean, Dylan Ek, James Francisco, Joshua Medina and Evan Tauriainen. The coaches were Howard, Reilly, Penny Hocking and Andy Tauriainen.
Members of the Miller’s Hill squad were: Amber Gruenwald, Sophia Barden, Kylie Cox, Nicholas Fernandez, Erin Horan, Jennifer Isaacson and Emma Seymour. The coaches are Hoalli Gruenwald, Claire Fernandez, Holly Cox and Candance Horan.
Schools competing on the second day were: Miller’s Hill school; Gold Trail School in Placerville third/fourth and fifth/sixth grade teams; Lakeview School in El Dorado Hills third/fourth grade team; Camino School in Camino, third/fourth and fifth/sixth grade teams; and Rescue School in Rescue fifth/sixth grade team.