top of page

2021 Contest Results

In March 1 - April 30, 2021, Selkirk Alliance for Science hosted a weekly online science contest to test scientific knowledge and information search skills by participants. ​We thank all participants who entered the contest, and hope that a new awareness about science will result in informed decisions for our daily lives.

Contest Prize winners of a science pocket guide or book are: Jeff Jackson, Craig Jenkins, Stan Mrzygod, Nancy Thompson, and Jan Wood. Prize winners came from Newport, Ione, Elk, and Spokane.

Our science trivia contest will reopen in January 2022 with new questions and prizes.


Question: Which of the following do fire spotters use as protection from lightning while inside a fire lookout tower?

Answer: B. Glass insulators protect a chair-seated person from the enormous electrical surge, and ear plugs dampen the deafening clap of thunder. In fact, the shock wave from thunder as loud as 200 decibels can rupture the eardrums of people nearby, leading to temporary or permanent hearing impairment. Pend Oreille County once had several fire lookouts. They were built by the U.S. Forest Service, Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), Works Progress Administration (WPA), and resettlement workers as early as approximately 1920.
Sources: Wildfire Watch Tower Job is Not for the Faint of Heart and Fire Lookout and Thunder. The Museum in Newport, WA has information about fire lookouts plus CCC camps, and opens for the summer season on May 28, 2021.

Question: What is the preferred habitat of Pend Oreille County’s only bird species with 4 letters in its single-word common name?

Answer: B. The sora (Porzana carolina) is a secretive bird about the size of a quail and inhabits the dense growth of freshwater marshes or sometime wet meadows. Their nest is a well-built cup of dead cattails, grasses, and other plants. Vegetation is often arched over the top and a runway of plant material leads to it. Soras migrate to South America for the winter.
Source: Sora – Audubon Field Guide.



Question: What is the name and scientific purpose for a special measuring instrument housed at the USGS’s Newport Geophysical Observatory in Pend Oreille County? 

​Answer: It appears there are more than one special measuring instrument onsite than the flux-gate magnetometer mentioned on the Observatory's website. A magnetomoter measures planet Earth’s magnetic field. Stay tuned here for further details as we discover them.
Source: Newport (NEW)

Question: What causes the gray- or silver-hued color of summer foliage on Quaking Aspen trees?

Answer: Larvae of the Aspen Leafminer moth (Phyllocnistis populiella) are minute, flat, and develop internally by creating meandering tunnels within a tree’s leaf. Heavily mined leaves lose much of their photosynthetic capacity causing the foliage to attain a silver or gray hue.
Source: Aspen Leafminer



Question: How many different fish species are known to occur in the Pend Oreille River, Idaho?

Answer: The following 23 fish species were found in the Pend Oreille River during a 1991-92 study: * kokanee salmon * cutthroat trout * rainbow trout * brown trout * brook trout * bull trout * lake trout * lake whitefish * mountain whitefish * peamouth * northern squawfish * redside shiner * tench * longnose sucker * largescale sucker * brown bullhead * channel catfish * pumpkinseed * smallmouth bass * largemouth bass * black crappie * yellow perch * slimy sculpin.
The River was sampled from Albeni Falls Dam upstream to Long Bridge near Sandpoint. Even though text in the study report mentions finding 24 species, only 23 were itemized.
Source: Fish Habitat Associations of the Pend Oreille River, Idaho

Question: What science occupation that requires only an Associates degree had the highest median pay in 2019?

Answer: For occupations on this list, a dental hygienist has the highest median pay at $76,220, while the lowest pay is for agricultural or food science technicians at $41,230. Those in between: * Radiological & MRI Technologists $62,280 * Respiratory Therapists $61,330 * Mechanical Engineering Technician $56,980 * Industrial Engineering Technician $56,550 * Chemical Technician $49,260 * Environmental Science & Protection Technician $46,540.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics - Occupational Outlook Handbook. 2019.



Question: On what date in 2020 did the air pollutant PM2.5 peak highest in Pend Oreille County? (Check the SAS website.)

Answer: The most toxic wildfire smoke arrived in Pend Oreille County on September 11, 2020, then peaked from an extreme concentration of fine particulates on September 12, and dissipated by September 19. No other date in 2020 came close to that extreme.
Source​: AQI Monthly Reports.

Question: What conifer tree species that is native in Pend Oreille County usually grows a very droopy top?

Answer: Western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla) trees have a very droopy top that allows the limber tip to bend instead of break under a snow load. There is a relative, mountain hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana), that grows at higher elevations and produces tree tops that droop only slightly.
Source: Western State Tree.



Question: What species of reptile native to Pend Oreille County has the longest recorded lifespan? (Check the SAS website.) 

Answer: The painted turtle can claim our “old-timer” award for 30 years of life. The Great Basin gopher snake is runner-up at 15.8 years, and the rubber boa is third at 11.4 years.
Source: Life Spans of Mammals, Birds, Amphibians, Reptiles, and Fish.

bottom of page