Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences

National Ocean-Science Competition Makes a Splash in Colorado

National Ocean-Science Competition Makes a Splash in Colorado

National Ocean Sciences Bowl high school finals competition comes to Boulder for the first time in 20-year history


This Earth Day weekend, over 100 students from 20+ U.S. states, including Alaska and Hawaii, will chart their course to the University of Colorado Boulder, to match wits in the National Ocean Sciences Bowl. The student finalists will put their knowledge to the test—expertly answering Jeopardy-style trivia questions on topics including marine chemistry, policy, biology, and more. CIRES will host the competition here in Boulder—it’s the first time the nationals have been held in a fully landlocked state.

students competing at tablesStudent competitors at the 2017 NOSB competition. Photo: NOSB

The winning teams of the 23 regional competitions span the nation: There’s the Manatee Bowl winners from Viera, Florida; the Aloha Bowl winners from Maui, Hawaii; the Blue Lobster Bowl winners from Lexington, Massachusetts; and our own regional Front Range competition winners of the Trout Bowl. Starting on April 20, these regional winners will battle for the national title.

The National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB) has been on a mission for the last two decades to engage high school students in ocean science, “preparing them for ocean science-related and other STEM careers, and helping them become knowledgeable citizens and environmental stewards.”

Students answering a questionThe Fort Collins High School team, winner of Colorado's Trout Bowl: Larry Chen, Suhaas Narayanan, Nathan Sima, and Antonio Izzo collaborate on a group question. Photo: Katie Weeman/CIRES

“Although I am looking forward to the competition itself, I am most excited to experience the numerous opportunities to enhance my communication, leadership, and study with other people who are interested in the ocean sciences,” said Nathan Sima, 16, one of the team members from Fort Collins High School, the winner of Colorado’s Trout Bowl. The Fort Collins team has been practicing with weekly buzzer and team question sessions.

The theme of this year’s competition is: “Our Ocean Shaping Weather.” NOSB organizers were at first hesitant to hold an ocean-themed competition in ocean-less Colorado, until the CIRES Education & Outreach team explained some of the critical weather-related work that CIRES and NOAA scientists conduct—from remote sensing of oceans with satellites, drones, and aircraft, to hands-on work in the field. It’s the first time NOSB will hold nationals in a state 1,000 miles from the nearest coast.

Participants and the public will dive into NOSB weekend on Friday, April 20, with a special keynote presentation by NOAA speakers. 

Students throwing net into waterStudents participating in Marine Discovery Tours in Oregon at the 2017 NOSB event. Photo: Amanda Morton/CIRES

Student finalists will attend a number of interactive, science-themed field trips in the Boulder area. The high schoolers will attend campus tours of the NOAA, NCAR, and CU Boulder, as well as work on exciting science projects with Boulder Open Space, Rocky Mountain National Park, and learn how to fly research drones with experts at CU’s Integrated Remote and In Situ Sensing (IRISS) initiative.

Volunteers are critical to NOSB’s operation and success. Each competition recruits hundreds of volunteers to write questions, judge and moderate: Openings for both scientists and nonscientists are available. Interested in volunteering? Contact Amanda Morton at amanda.morton@colorado.edu.


CIRES is a partnership of NOAA and CU Boulder.


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