MOREHEAD CITY — Students from Albany High School of Albany, Calif., beat out 23 other regional champions to win the finals of the 19th annual National Ocean Sciences Bowl this past weekend at Carteret Community College.
The education competition tests students’ knowledge of ocean-related topics, which include cross-disciplines of biology, chemistry, policy, physics, and geology. It’s part of 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 Thursday-Sunday.
The 24 teams competing in the finals each won their Regional National Ocean Sciences Bowl in February. In total, 369 teams from 272 schools, or about 1,845 students, participated.
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,” a topic that included 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.
The competition consists of buzzer-style, multiple-choice questions and longer, critical thinking team-challenge questions. The event included a mock congressional hearing where students presented science recommendations on a piece of legislation to better their understanding of how science informs policy.
The top eight teams at the finals were:
- First place – Albany High School – Albany, Calif.
- Second place – Marshfield High School – Marshfield, Wis.
- Third place – Santa Monica High School – Santa Monica, Calif.
- Fourth place – Liberty Common High School – Fort Collins, Colo.
- Fifth place – Boise High – Boise, Idaho
- Sixth place – Lexington High School – Lexington, Mass.
- Seventh place – E.O. Smith High School – Storrs, Conn.
- Eighth Place – Montgomery Blair High School – Silver Spring, Md.
The first- and second-place teams received all-expense paid trips to Monaco and Milwaukee, Wis., 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.
Students also competed for several additional awards during the finals. York High School, from York, Maine, took home the James D. Watkins Sportsmanship Award.
Lexington High School won the top award for the congressional briefing, with Liberty Common High School and Boise High School coming 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, sciences bowl program director.
Students also enjoyed a number of hands-on activities, including a career mentoring event with leaders in the science field; a tour of Duke Marine Lab and the UNC Institute of Marine Sciences; and multiple fieldtrips, including a behind-the-scenes look at the N.C. Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores and Fort Macon State Park, a shark-tagging trip aboard the research vessel Capricorn, and a coastal marsh cleanup at Fort Macon.