The National Ocean Sciences Bowl is Developing Future Ocean Leaders
Part quiz-bowl, part-team building exercise, and a whole lot of studying make up the National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB) for high school students.
With fewer than half of America’s public schools teaching any curriculum in environmental science, the NOSB bolsters education in marine sciences.
“Our program is there to fill in the gap left from the public schools and introduce students to the world of ocean sciences – just when they are starting to think about their careers and also when they are active in environmental causes,” said Kristen Yarincik, Director of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl.
The competition is organized in twenty-five regions of the U.S. Schools form teams of 4-5 students who spend the year studying topics including biology, chemistry, geography, geology, marine-policy, physical oceanography, social sciences, and technology. They compete in regional bowls, then the winning teams compete at the national finals in April.
“Many young people become interested first in marine biology, but then they see how much more there is to ocean sciences including geography, weather, policy, and even the role that technology and engineering play in marine sciences,” said Yarincik.
The 2019 theme – ocean observing – was of particular interest to MTS members, many of whom submitted questions to the competition. With 2,500 questions needed each year – it is a huge help to have expert volunteers write and vet them.
Careers in Marine Sciences
With the Blue Economy growing at such a fast rate, it is critical to attract a skilled workforce, which is one of the reasons MTS is a sponsor of the NOSB.
“Throughout the year, and especially at the finals, we focus on exposing the students to the varied careers they can have,” Yarincik noted. “They learn a lot about oceans, about the impact they make on them, and how everything is inter-connected.”
MTS President-Elect Zdenka Willis and Vice President of Education Liesl Hotaling represented MTS at the round-robin career mentoring session and introduced students to MTS and explained how scholarly societies can play a role in their careers.
Willis opened the mentoring session by emphasizing that the oceans boost economic growth, employment, and innovation and that ocean observing is a cornerstone to that activity.
“These kids are bright kids and it really energizes you. It is uplifting to see how smart these kids are and how much they care for the oceans,” said Willis. “What amazed me was the wide range of knowledge that these kids had – the questions were so broad.”
And the Winner is…
The Albany High School (Albany, California) team was the winner of the 22nd annual National Ocean Sciences Bowl, locking down the win during the final round on April 14. The team included James Hort, Evan Zhong, Nathan Skinner, Maria Fedyk, and Ruby Tang, coached by Andy Marsh. This is the second national championship for Albany High School. They were followed by Santa Monica High School (Santa Monica, California) in second place and Ladue Horton Watkins High School (St. Louis, Missouri) in third place.
Volunteers are needed year-round, especially people with expertise in the marine sciences. You can volunteer in the regions to work with teams, create or review questions, or provide webinars on special topics. Visit the website or email NOSB@oceanleadership.org for more information.
MTS is proud to support the National Ocean Sciences Bowl and we thank all the other sponsors and volunteers around the country that make the event possible each year.
-Author, Lisa Stryker, Marine Technology Society