Dobyns-Bennett High School Established National Ocean Science Bowl Team; Places 5th at Regional Competition

Published February 20, 2017 at 4:16 p.m.
KINGSPORT, Tenn.Dobyns-Bennett High School has established its first competitive teams in the National Ocean Sciences Bowl, reinforcing its commitment to empowering students to apply the principles of science, technology, reading, engineering, arts and mathematics (STREAM) to real-world problem solving.

Students and coaches from coastal communities and landlocked states rallied together on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017 at the Regional Blue Heron Bowl in Wilmington, NC around the theme of marine renewable energy: Blue Energy – Powering the Planet with our Ocean.

The students on the Dobyns-Bennett team, Elizabeth Batts, Lilly Kramer and Allison and Jamie Cahill, reflect the importance of equipping a diverse future workforce to pursue STREAM careers.

Competing against North Carolina’s top performing high schools in math and science, DBHS finished in the Top 5 at the Regional Competition.  In addition, the coaches and volunteers at the event awarded the D-B team with the “Sportsmanship Award” for their positive enthusiasm throughout the event. Team captain, Elizabeth Batts from D-B shared, “Working together and applying the strengths of each team member allowed us to have fun while competing.  The experience was amazing and the exposure to the University of North Carolina Wilmington’s Marine Science Center is definitely something we will remember.” The team members agree that they are all looking forward to competing again next year. 

D-B’s interest in ocean science goes beyond the National Ocean Sciences Bowl.  In January, the school launched its inaugural capstone course with a focus on ocean processes.  Through a partnership with Eastman and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, students are challenged to apply cross-disciplinary learning to real world issues and problems.  By interacting with some of the world’s top ocean scientists on active research projects, students are exposed to unique experiences that will give them a competitive advantage while continuing their education and entering the workforce.    

Why bring ocean science to East Tennessee?  The ocean matters everywhere.  It drives our weather and climate and is an integral part of the food web.  The ocean plays a key role in transportation, telecommunication, and national security.  It is the source of 97% of the water we drink and 50% of the oxygen we breathe.  And yet, the ocean is still not sufficiently understood.  “Change begins with education and what better way to engage in a global need than to inspire the best and brightest young minds around the endless possibilities of applying educational skills to impact the issues of our changing world,” said Natalie Pickett, instructor of the capstone course at Dobyns-Bennett. “The opportunities and benefits associated with our partnership with Eastman and their support of the world’s leading oceanographic research institution is certainly a differentiator for our students and presents them with exceptional experiences that are unique to our region.” 

“The integration of ocean science into our curriculum is a great example of how effective public private partnerships empower the next generation of thinkers, makers and scientists to be the catalysts for change that our global community needs,” said David A. Golden, Eastman’s senior vice president and chief legal & sustainability officer.  The ocean processes course was developed with the assistance of the world-class scientists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Golden continued, “Problem solving in the real world requires an interdisciplinary approach and that is what the course employs.  Using advanced math, chemistry, physics, biology, robotics, and computer coding as an underpinning, the course develops real world problem-solving and critical thinking skills and provides these students with a strong foundation for their future careers.”

Exposure to a capstone course in ocean processes is a unique experience for students and D-B is one of only a few select high schools in the United States offering such a program.  Expanding curriculum in the areas of STREAM and increasing a problem-based approach to learning complements the school’s ongoing plans to introduce a new science and technology center, also known as D-B 2.0.

Eastman is a global advanced materials and specialty additives company that produces a broad range of products found in items people use every day. With a portfolio of specialty businesses, Eastman works with customers to deliver innovative products and solutions while maintaining a commitment to safety and sustainability. Its market-driven approaches take advantage of world-class technology platforms and leading positions in attractive end-markets such as transportation, building and construction and consumables. Eastman focuses on creating consistent, superior value for all stakeholders. As a globally diverse company, Eastman serves customers in more than 100 countries and had 2016 revenues of approximately $9.0 billion. The company is headquartered in Kingsport, Tenn., and employs approximately 14,000 people around the world. For more information, visit

The National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB) encompasses numerous scientific disciplines and encourages an increased understanding of the science needed to sustain strong communities, including improving community awareness; addressing erosion and increasing coastal populations and development; restoring coastlines; protecting estuarine ecosystems and services; and improving coastal disaster projection, preparedness, and response. The competition tests students’ knowledge of ocean-related topics, which include cross-disciplines of biology, chemistry, policy, physics, and geology. The NOSB is an interdisciplinary ocean science education program of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership based in Washington, D.C.

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) is the world's leading, independent non-profit organization dedicated to ocean research, exploration, and education. Scientists and engineers push the boundaries of knowledge about the ocean to reveal its impacts on our planet and our lives. WHOI’s hard-won experience at sea, innovative technology, and commitment to research and education make the institution a reliable source of valuable knowledge about the ocean for scientists, decision-makers, and the public.

Kingsport City Schools (KCS) is a public school district located in Kingsport, Tenn., serving students in Sullivan and Hawkins county. The district is comprised of 13 schools, including a Pre-K, eight elementary schools, two middle schools, one high school, a high school program of choice and an alternative learning program; with total enrollment over 7,500 students. The vision of Kingsport City Schools is to be, Student Focused … World Class.

KCS has been named the top school district in Tennessee as winner of the 2014 SCORE Prize District Award by the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) and has earned the 2014 Achievement Award in the annual Excellence in Tennessee Recognition Program by the Tennessee Center for Performance Excellence (TNCPE).

For more information on KCS, visit, listen live on WCSK 90.3 FM, The Voice of KCS, read our blog, We Are KCS, or call (423) 378.2100. We’re social too; follow us on Facebook (Kingsport City Schools), Twitter (@KCS_District) and check out our YouTube Channel (KPTSchools).