Students from Albany High School (Albany, California) beat out 23 other regional champions to win the Finals of the 19th Annual National Ocean Sciences Bowl® (NOSB), an education competition that 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. The University of North Carolina Chapel Hill’s Institute of Marine Sciences and Seahorse Coastal Consulting hosted the Finals, which took place April 21-24, 2016 at Carteret Community College.
The 24 teams competing in the Finals each won their Regional National Ocean Sciences Bowl in February. In total, 369 teams from 272 schools (making up approximately 1,845 students) participated in the NOSB (including the regional competitions). Andrew Liu, a member of the winning Albany High School team, called this the “best weekend of our lives by far.”
The theme for the Finals was “Our Changing Ocean: Science for Strong Coastal Communities.” This topic 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.
At both the regional and national levels, the competition consists of buzzer-style, multiple choice questions and longer, critical thinking-based team challenge questions. Those competing in the Finals also participate in the Scientific Expert Briefing (SEB) a mock congressional hearing where students present science recommendations on a piece of legislation, bettering their understanding of how science informs policy.
The top eight teams at the Finals Competition were:
1st Place – Albany High School – Albany, California
2nd Place – Marshfield High School – Marshfield, Wisconsin
3rd Place – Santa Monica High School – Santa Monica, California
4th Place – Liberty Common High School – Fort Collins, Colorado
5th Place – Boise High School – Boise, Idaho
6th Place – Lexington High School – Lexington, Massachusetts
7th Place – E.O. Smith High School – Storrs, Connecticut
8th Place – Montgomery Blair High School – Silver Spring, Maryland
For a full list of the 2016 NOSB Finals participants, click here.
Students compete for several additional awards during the Finals. NOSB places an emphasis on sportsmanship, awarding one school in the Finals the James D. Watkins Sportsmanship Award. York High School, from York, Maine, took home the award this year, which was their first year ever participating in NOSB. Additionally, participants are scored separately on their performance in the SEB. Lexington High School won this portion of the competition, and Liberty Common High School and Boise High School came in second and third, respectively.
“Each year, we are impressed with the quality of students who participate in NOSB. Their commitment and dedication to learning ocean science is inspiring. A few students even missed their senior prom to compete in this year’s Finals, and others are getting ready to take AP exams next week. They’re really taking full advantage of this opportunity to study ocean science in a fun and competitive way,” said Kristen Yarincik, NOSB Program Director.
The first and second place teams received all-expense paid trips to Monaco and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, respectively, to join local experts in conducting scientific research. The third place team received Amazon Fire HD 8 tablets. The other top teams received Amazon gift cards to purchase marine science textbooks. The Sportsmanship prize winning team also received a gift card as well as the same buzzer system used in the competition.
Many past NOSB participants have moved on to pursue college degrees and careers in ocean science, helping to solve the growing environmental, economic, and security issues facing our ocean and planet. In 2016, 70% of participating teachers indicated that their NOSB participation has resulted in increased infusion of marine science content into their regular classrooms, and 93% of teachers agree that participation in NOSB has greatly increased their NOSB students’ interest in science.
“These students have demonstrated so many qualities important in good leaders,” said RADM Jon White, President and CEO of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership. “They work together to solve problems, use critical thinking skills, and stay calm under pressure. NOSB is more than just a competition – it’s helping to build the next generation of science leaders. I look forward to seeing all that these students will accomplish.”
Students also enjoyed a number of hands-on, science activities, including a career mentoring event with leaders in the science field; a tour of Duke Marine Lab and University of North Carolina Chapel Hill’s Institute of Marine Sciences; and multiple fieldtrips, including a behind the scenes look at the North Carolina Aquarium and Fort Macon State Park, a shark tagging trip aboard the R/V Capricorn, and a coastal marsh cleanup at Fort Macon State Park.
The 2016 national NOSB program is made possible through the following major sponsors:
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
- Office of Naval Research
- Wendy & Eric Schmidt
- Deerbrook Charitable Trust
- IEEE Ocean Engineering Society
- Bureau of Ocean Energy Management
- National Aeronautics and Space Administration
- Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation
- Eastman Chemical Company
- The Curtis & Edith Munson Foundation
- Wells Fargo
- Rapp Marine
See a full list of sponsors here.