Each year, the award for the top winning teams at the National Ocean Sciences Bowl Finals Competition is an experiential trip that provides these teams with unique hands-on field and laboratory experience in the marine sciences. The trips expose students to science professionals and career opportunities, while enriching their understanding and stewardship of the ocean. These trips were made possible through funding from the IEEE Oceanic Engineering Society.
The 2014 NOSB national champions from Boise High School (Idaho) were awarded a 6-day trip to Northern New England. The trip started in Portsmouth, NH where the team boarded a boat to Shoals Marine Laboratory on Appledore Island. The students spent two days touring the island, learning about the ecosystem as well as life on the island as an undergraduate or graduate marine science student. The team explored the island’s intertidal environment and used transects to collect data on species coverage. They learned about research diving and the projects students at Shoals are conducting. They also got to see the sustainability efforts of the island – solar panels, a wind turbine and composting toilets. After the island visit, the team toured the Chase Ocean Engineering Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire to see and learn about the cutting-edge equipment available to conduct research, including two wave tanks and 3-D mapping software. From there, the team headed to the University of Maine’s Darling Marine Center for a day of hands-on work, including multiple cruises on Darling’s research vessel to sample and ID benthic invertebrates and zooplankton, tours of the mudflats and the shellfish aquaculture facility, and an introduction to squid research. The trip wrapped up with visits to Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences and the Gulf of Maine Research Institute where researchers introduced students to their work and shared their diverse career paths. The students even got involved in some citizen science and recorded species data for GMRI’s Vital Signs program. While in Maine, the students went on an authentic lobster boat tour and a puffin watch cruise to experience some of the marine wildlife of New England. They also got some beach time where they got to express their inner- architects by building sand castles.
The students from Arcadia High School (California) placed second at the 2014 NOSB Finals and were awarded a 5-day educational and experiential trip to Washington D.C., Annapolis, MD and Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The students began their trip with behind-the-scenes tours of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Zoo, viewing the Seals and Sea Lions and Amazonia, and National Museum of Natural History, where they viewed the Sant Ocean Hall, the museum’s collection of cowrie shells, and Q?rius, an interactive and experimental learning space for teens. Next, a visit with the education staff at the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation focused on coral reef ecosystems and a participatory activity that simulated coral reef transect surveys. The students were provided actual data to analyze and to ultimately assess the health of two reefs. The Smithsonian Environmental Research Center hosted the students at the Reed Education Center, providing an in-depth tour of its CO2 Lab where scientists have been conducting what is now the longest running field experiment in the world on the effects and implications of rising atmospheric carbon dioxide on marsh plant communities. The students took canoes for a leisurely trip along Muddy Creek where they were joined by three great blue herons. During a visit to the NOAA Environmental Science Training Center at the Cooperative Oxford Lab, the team was challenged with creating two ROVs that would compete in the completion of three tasks in tanks with obstacles. While in Maryland, the students also enjoyed an afternoon on the beach at Sandy Point State Park and a visit to the Chesapeake Maritime Museum.