What is the National Ocean Sciences Bowl?
Each year, Alaska holds a regional ocean sciences competition as part of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB). Unique to the Alaska regional NOSB is the research component of the competition, in which teams of four or five students prepare a 20-page research paper that is submitted in December, and present a 20-minute oral presentation at the Tsunami Bowl in February or March. The research project counts 50 percent toward the final score and complements the quiz competition, where teams of four students, plus an optional alternate, compete against each other in a timed quiz match, which contributes the other 50 percent of the final score. The winning team of the 2013 Tsunami Bowl will have all expenses paid to travel to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, April 18–21, 2013, to compete against other regional teams from across the United States.
Read more about the NOSB competition and its impact on schools across the United States in an article written for Sea Technology.
The goal of this competition is to recognize and reward excellence among students interested in ocean studies. The bowl also aims to encourage high school students, their teachers and parents to increase their knowledge of the oceans and to broaden awareness of the critical value of ocean research.
In the quiz competition, students must be the first to “buzz-in” for the opportunity to answer a multiple-choice or short-answer question. The game is organized as a series of matches in a round-robin/double-elimination format. In each match, two teams compete against each other and the clock, trying to be the fastest to answer the toss-up questions. Team challenge questions, more complex questions which require critical analysis and written answers, test students’ critical thinking skills.
For the research project, students must prepare an in-depth research document on a specific ocean-related question or problem and must give an oral presentation on their work. Each component is judged by a panel of scientists and is worth 25 percent of the total score. The quiz competition makes up the other 50 percent of the total score.
The NOSB is sponsored by the Consortium for Ocean Leadership. The Alaska regional competition is sponsored by the University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, with additional support from the Alaska Sea Grant College Program, University of Alaska Southeast, Icicle Seafoods, Crowley Maritime Corporation, Glosten Associates, Inc., and various marine-related government agencies, private businesses, and individuals. Phyllis Shoemaker is the coordinator of the Alaska competition.
The Consortium for Ocean Leadership, along with its member institutions, conducts a national competition for high schools on topics related to the study of the oceans: the National Ocean Sciences Bowl.
The NOSB was first conducted in the winter and spring of 1998 in honor of the International Year of the Ocean. The grand prize was a trip to EXPO '98 in Lisbon, Portugal aboard the USNS Pathfinder. The 1999 national winning team received full scholarships to participate in the Secretary of the Navy's Engineering and Science Residential Program.
Specific objectives of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl are to:
- Broaden the awareness and understanding of high school students, teachers, and parents of the latest scientific research on the oceans and on the critical impact of the oceans on global climate and weather, economic well-being, history and culture;
- Create an ideal opportunity to expose teachers to the value and excitement of using the oceans as a tool for both disciplinary and cross-disciplinary science education; teaching biology, physics, chemistry, geology and math integrated into study of the ocean;
- Provide an opportunity for university oceanographic research programs and facilities to develop new links with the pre-college communities in their respective regions.
Regional and Final Competitions
The Consortium for Ocean Leadership, with the assistance of the Technical Advisory Panel, prepares the competition rules and regulations and the specific questions used in both the regional and national competitions.
At the finals, competitions can consist of up to 15 matches (or rounds), including tiebreakers as necessary. The competition incorporates a round-robin form for the early rounds and a double-elimination feature for final rounds.
The winning teams from each of the 25 regional competitions are offered transportation to and room and board at the national finals.
In an effort to recognize individual achievement as part of the NOSB program, the Consortium for Ocean Leadership has introduced the National Ocean Scholar Program for NOSB students who are interested in pursuing an ocean or marine-related topic in college. Scholars will receive monetary support for the first two years of undergraduate studies. Details on the scholarship program, including criteria for the program, the application process, and an application form in PDF, are available on the national NOSB website.
National Coordinators and Sponsors
The National Ocean Sciences Bowl is conducted as a partnership between the Consortium for Ocean Leadership and host institutions, with financial sponsorship from the Office of Naval Research, Oceanographer of the Navy, National Aeronautics & Space Administration, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, National Science Foundation, U.S. Geological Survey, National Oceanographic Partnership Program, and other agencies and private sources.
Regional Coordinators and Volunteers
Regional sites are selected from among the Consortium for Ocean Leadership institutional membership for the regional bowl competitions. Each site has a staff member as the primary coordinator for the region. The regional coordinators are trained by Consortium for Ocean Leadership staff on how to organize and administer the regional competition. Each regional bowl and the finals is staffed and run by volunteers (e.g., faculty members, students, administrative staff, etc.).
The ultimate success of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl requires the concerted efforts of many hundreds of volunteer staff at the regional competitions and the finals. Training and preparing these volunteers for their key roles is the responsibility of the Regional and National Consortium for Ocean Leadership staff. These volunteers serve as moderators, scientific judges, rules judges, timers and scorekeepers. Each regional bowl coordinator is responsible for raising local funds to cover such costs as program printing and reproduction, meals and snacks for the program competitors, and trophies or similar awards for the winning regional teams.
Participating High Schools
The Consortium for Ocean Leadership institutions hosting a regional competition define the geographic area included in their competition, and invite schools located in those regions. Schools participating in the regional bowl pay their own expenses to the regional competition, although a limited amount of team travel assistance may be available thanks to the generosity of regional sponsors.
The Technical Advisory Panel
The Technical Advisory Panel is composed of approximately 15 ocean scientists, university-level educators and high school teachers to provide overall guidance and advice to the development of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl. Specifically, the panel provides technical oversight on the preparation of competition questions.
Approximately 3000 questions are prepared for the competitions. The questions are organized for the regional and national competitions in order of increasing difficulty.
The national NOSB site provides a Team Resources page with tips, study resources, and sample questions.
A Resources Guide is used to direct interested students and their teachers to key information and materials on ocean research and related topics. The actual questions for the regional and final competitions are drawn—at least in part—from this resource material. Preparation of this guide was necessary because most high school science courses do not include ocean research per se as part of their content; students will often study weather formation, global climate issues, marine mammals and earth sciences, but not the oceans as the major engines of global climate and weather. Moreover, the general ocean sciences (physical and chemical oceanography, etc.) and specific ocean phenomena (currents, heat transfer mechanisms, etc.) are rarely studied at all.
The Resources Guide includes citations to a number of key sources of information on the oceans—textbooks, CD-ROMs, and select sites on the World Wide Web. This guide has been reviewed by the Technical Advisory Panel, and was prepared by Consortium for Ocean Leadership/NMEA staff.
Prizes for the Alaska regional competition are donated by a number of individuals and organizations. In past competitions, these have included:
- One-year tuition waivers from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the University of Alaska Southeast
- Several classroom awards from the faculty and staff of the School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences
- Grants from Alaska Sea Grant to the coach of the winning research project and to the art teacher of the Best of Show winner in the art competition
Additionally, the winning team receives a free trip to compete in the finals against the other regional winners.
November 15 is the deadline to indicate the intent to participate in each year's Alaska Regional NOSB. To encourage maximum representation across the state, only one team per school is accepted, on a first-come, first-served basis, until October 1. If space is available after October 1, additional teams from schools already accepted can sign up.
Contact science bowl coordinator Phyllis Shoemaker at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Seward Marine Center to find out how your high school can join in the fun, or check out our web pages for coaches and teams. The number of teams is limited, so act early for the best chance of participating in the next National Ocean Sciences Bowl.
PO Box 730, Seward, AK 99664
Phone: 907-224-4312, Fax: 907-224-3392