21 teams competed in virtual finals competition
By Chad Winthrop
Recently students from Santa Monica High School placed fourth in the National Finals of the 24th Annual National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB), in a field of over 200 teams.
An interdisciplinary ocean science education program of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership, the NOSB tests students’ knowledge of ocean science topics, including cross-disciplines of biology, chemistry, policy, physics, and geology. This year, due to the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis, students competed May 15-16 in a modified, virtual competition season culminating in over a week of online competition, mentoring, and interactive “field trip” events as part of NOSB Finals. Students on the Santa Monica team include Sara Akiba, Halie Matsui, Theodore Berger, and Ethan Foley (team photo below). They are coached by Ingo Gaida.
This year’s theme, Plunging into Our Polar Seas, tasked students with learning about the scientific processes behind and consequences of the changes taking place in the Arctic and Antarctic. To qualify for Finals, the teams first had to win their regional competitions, which took place entirely virtually for the first time ever this year. In total, more than 210 teams (made up of almost 1,050 students representing nearly 30 states) participated, adding to the over than 30,000 students who have passed through the ocean sciences competition over the last 24 years.
Through buzzer-style, multiple-choice questions and open-ended team challenge questions, students tested their general knowledge of ocean science and showcased what they learned about the complex, vulnerable ecosystems of the Arctic and Antarctic as well as the research needed to address issues facing our polar regions. This year’s theme also highlighted one Arctic study in particular — the Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate, or MOSAiC, project. Modeled after the 1893-1896 Fram journey, MOSAiC is a collaborative, international research expedition that froze a scientific research vessel in sea ice for a year to study the changing ocean in the Arctic.
Teams also presented science recommendations on a piece of legislation in the Science Expert Briefing (SEB), a mock congressional hearing that enhances the critical thinking elements of the competition and focuses on real-world skills.
The top eight teams at the Finals Competition were:
- 1st Place – Dougherty Valley High School (San Ramon, CA)
- 2nd Place – Lexington High School (Lexington, MA)
- 3rd Place – Canyon Crest Academy (San Diego, CA)
- 4th Place – Santa Monica High School (Santa Monica, CA)
- 5th Place – Tesla STEM High School (Redmond, WA)
- 6th Place – Saline High School (Saline, MI)
- 7th Place – Oxford High School (Oxford, MS)
- 8th Place – Edwin O. Smith High School (Storrs, CT)