National Ocean Sciences Bowl - Trout Bowl

The NOSB is an academic competition and program that engages high school students in ocean science.

National Ocean Sciences Bowl - Trout Bowl

Since 1999, CIRES Education Outreach has hosted the Trout Bowl, the only regional NOSB competition in a completely land-locked state! This quiz-show style competition engages teams of high school students from one of the largest geographic areas - including Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, South Dakota, New Mexico and Kansas.

Every year, in February or March, twelve schools travel to the University of Colorado Boulder to compete in the Trout Bowl, and the winning team then continues on to compete at the national competition in April (the finals competition travels to a new location every year).

The Trout Bowl is FREE for all students. Additionally all competing students receive a lunch, t-shirt and certificate of participation, while the top three placing teams receive plaques or trophies and prize bags. The prize bags are filled with donations from our generous Sponsors.

The Trout Bowl could not happen without the continual support of our volunteers, who donate their time every year to run a successful competition. We recruit 75-100 volunteers annually to perform a range of roles.

The Trout Bowl competition is one of the 25 regional competitions for the National Ocean Sciences Bowl.

Typically held in February or March, the Trout Bowl tests 12 teams of 4-5 students on their knowledge of scientific and technical disciplines through quick answer buzzer questions and more complex, critical thinking team challenge questions (TCQs). 

The winning team from each of the 25 regional competitions is provided transportation and room and board accommodation to advance to the NOSB Finals Competition held in a different location each year in April.

2021 Team Registration and Consent Forms are now available online:

This year’s theme is “Plunging Into Our Polar Seas”, 5-10% of questions will focus on the theme and cover polar explorers, arctic marine food web, albedo, etc.

We're looking forward to hosting our first ever virtual Trout Bowl!

But we need your help, we're looking to recruit 40 volunteers this year. Sign up to volunteer.


Quick Summary:

  • We’re anticipating 10-11 virtual rooms simultaneously in the morning so we really need help with morning rounds
  • 11 teams from 4 states are signed up so far.
  • We’ll have lots of virtual trainings available at the end of January. Plus recorded trainings.
  • Flexible shifts and shorter shifts will be available. 


All the Details:

What will the virtual competition look like?

The day will be made of single-team round robins and head-to-head double eliminations. This means that during the round robins, teams will not compete against another team and will all have the same opportunities to buzz in and answer all the questions they can during the rounds. Head-to-Head double eliminations uses a virtual buzzer system to replicate the regular competition structure of two teams competing against one another. The web-based software we plan to use identifies and corrects for internet lag. An example of what a virtual competition looks like can be found here (however they did not use the buzzer software that we plan to use).

Volunteer Roles:

  • Moderator – Reads questions and announces interrupts/blurts.
  • Science Judge – Recognizes teams and resets the lockout system/buzzer.
  • Time Keeper/Score Keeper – Combines the two roles of Time Keeper and Score Keeper, however we’ll use an integrated interface so you won’t need to do any mental math or maintain a physical time clock – it will all be in one place.
  • Rules Judge/Room Officiant – Sends challenges to OBC, watches student video screens for signs of cheating, maintains a hard copy scoresheet (in excel).
  • TCQ Graders – Graders will review submitted written questions in Google Docs.

Volunteer Schedules/Shifts:

We know that folks everywhere are feeling a little burnt out from all the screen time. We expect that volunteers and teams are feeling this way too, so we’re looking at all our options for scheduling. For example, in the above volunteer interest form we poll volunteers to see if splitting the competition over two days (for example: 2-3 hours on a Friday evening and 4-6 hours on Saturday) might work. We’re also going to offer sign-ups per round, so you can volunteer for sequential or non-sequential rounds (for example rounds 1-4 or rounds 2, 3, 6-10).

Technology Needs:

All officials will need a computer and internet access. Moderators and Science Judges will need Java for the eOSB software. Dual screens or a large monitor are recommended for Moderators, Science Judges, and Rules Judges but are not required. Headsets are recommended for all officials. Webcams are not necessary for officials.

2021 Trout Bowl Scores

First Place Team: Thunder Basin High School

First Place Team from Thunder Basin High School

2021 First Place Team
Thunder Basin High School.

They won the first ever Trout Bowl competition and will represent our region at the Finals National Competition!

Study Materials for Teams

Program Team

Keep up to date on opportunities and news from CIRES Education & Outreach

Phone: 303-492-5670
Fax: 303-735-3644


CIRES Education and Outreach
University of Colorado Boulder
488 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309-0449

Office Hours

8:00 am to 5:00 pm -- fall and spring semesters 

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