NOSB 2014 Research Project:
Ocean Challenges—At Present and in the Future

2014 student research papers

The research project

This project will count as 50 percent of the 2014 Alaska Region NOSB competition. The written document and the oral presentation each count as 25 percent toward that 50-percent total.

Final papers are due 1 December 2013. Email your manuscript to the Tsunami Bowl coordinator, Phyllis Shoemaker. See the document preparation guidelines for deadlines and instructions on how to prepare the research paper.

The research project is optional. Teams can compete in the quiz bowl portion of the Tsunami Bowl without doing a project.

The topic

For this year’s Tsunami Bowl project several coaches have put forward ideas that all have a similar approach. In your lifetime, the oceans will undergo change. Some pundits have suggested that even now the oceans are approaching irreversible, potentially catastrophic change. The oceans have warmed, sea levels are projected to rise, sharp declines in fish stocks are being noted, and the oceans have become more acidic as they absorb human-generated carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Pollution, habitat loss and overfishing are dangerous threats to communities tied to the oceans. Increased world population and advances in technology will continue to place burdens and demands on marine resources.

Borrowing freely from the thoughts of coaches Switgard Duesterloh and Julie Landwehr, this year’s topic will be “Ocean Challenges—At Present and in the Future.

What are the issues facing the oceans and ocean resources? How will these issues influence human life and what innovations could address some of these issues?

What do these issues mean for us at home (in Alaska) and in other far-off places of the world? How could exploration of the deep sea influence life in the future?

See The Future Oceans—Warming Up, Rising High, Turning Sour, a special report by the German Advisory Council on Global Change, as a primer!

For this project you are asked to pick an issue impacting the future of the ocean. You must demonstrate a firm understanding of that issue: evolution, causes, economics of potential fixes, and specific problems related to your topic.

  1. Identify your issue and set boundaries. (Note: this should be fairly restricted and yet have a relationship with Alaskan concerns.) Remember that an ecosystem is a geographically defined system of organisms, environmental processes and any other processes controlling its dynamics.
  2. Describe this issue including: financial, cultural, energy-related, environmental impacts, projected implications. You define it! (Be thorough including both pros and cons because you are selling it to the judges and audience). Briefly describe the historical development of this issue (e.g., ocean acidification) and include the economic/cultural importance of your defined region. How do you tell Alaskans about potential impacts of a warmer ocean?
  3. Develop and prioritize a plan to combat this issue with defined goals. If you intend to regulate or manage pollution, habitat loss, reductions of freshwater flow, agricultural discharge, mining discharge, ocean acidification, overfishing or any other parameters including climate change: How do you do it, what are the costs and what are your chances of success? Utilize examples that are from outside of Alaska. Compare and contrast with an Alaskan counterpart.
  4. Prioritize what research and what monitoring is needed for successful management/mitigation of this issue and who should bear the costs of such programs.

Like many NOSB themes this is a very broad topic, and you will need to focus on a particular issue and solutions. This topic is intentionally broad to allow teams to focus on an area of particular interest to them. It is expected that different teams will develop different focal points and different topics. There are no cookie-cutter answers. It is important that you communicate your ideas clearly and completely.

Reviewers will be looking to see how well you demonstrate your understanding of your given topic, your particular impacted resource and potential problems and costs in offsetting these changes. Also of importance are the following:

Note carefully:The reviewers are looking for novelty, insightfulness and clarity. Be sure to clearly define your scenario. What is the problem? Why is it a problem? Who or what can realistically help the situation? What future research should be done and is needed to be done in order to guide us to improve the management of this resource or remediate the problem? Use facts to build your arguments but don’t be afraid to think about the facts in new ways. What are the broader impacts of your ideas? Who or what is affected? Why is this important to them or to you? Present more than facts. Synthesize the information to present the situation from beginning (facts) to end (ways to improve, cope, ameliorate or eliminate the impacts of your particular situation).


Note: As in the past, a minimum of three judges will evaluate each paper and the cumulative scores will be averaged.

Below are links to PDFs of the scoring rubrics for both the written paper and oral presentation.


General writing, research, and presentation resources

Submitting your paper

Your paper must be submitted to the Tsunami Bowl coordinator, Phyllis Shoemaker.

See the document preparation guidelines for deadlines and instructions on how to prepare the research paper.

The paper you submit should be considered the final product.