National Ocean Sciences Bowl

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The National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB), often referred to as "Ocean Bowl," is a single subject, quiz bowl-style competition in the U.S. It was formerly run by the Consortium for Ocean Leadership.[1] In 2022, the COL was dissolved and ownership of NOSB was transferred to the newly formed University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. Due to the transition as well as fundraising issues, the 2023 competition was canceled, and a new format will be adopted in future years.[2]

Question Topics

NOSB questions are themed around—you guessed it—the oceans. Topics include:[3]

  • Marine biology
  • Physical oceanography
  • Seawater chemistry
  • Technology used by oceanographers
  • Ocean geography
  • Marine policy (both U.S. and international)
  • Ocean history (usually explorers)
  • (Rarely) ocean-themed literature

Game Format

The NOSB format is similar to that of Science Bowl, though with several notable exceptions.[4]

  • Each round consists of two worksheets ("Team Challenge Questions" or "TCQs") on which team members can cooperate, followed by two timed, quizbowl-style buzzer halves of 6 minutes each. Some regionals may instead administer the worksheets between the two buzzer halves.
  • Each worksheet/TCQ is scored out of 20 points. TCQs are typically graded during the first buzzer half, and TCQ scores are revealed at halftime.
  • Most of the points in a typical match are scored during the two buzzer halves. A correctly answered tossup is worth 4 points, an incorrectly interrupted tossup (neg) is worth -4 points, and a correctly answered bonus is worth 6 points.
  • All tossups are multiple choice and all bonuses are short answer. Despite this, moderators will still say "Tossup—Multiple Choice" or "Bonus—Short Answer" before each question.
  • Unlike in Science Bowl, multiple-choice answers do not always need to exactly match the wording of the answer choice. Adding an article (e.g. "The Pacific Ocean" for "Pacific Ocean") is acceptable; however, any other modification (e.g. "octopuses" for "octopus") is still counted as wrong.
  • Verbal recognition is required on tossups; "blurting" will disqualify one's team from answering the question, though there is no point penalty (unlike in Science Bowl).
  • Unlike in Science Bowl or NAQT, the moderator must stop reading a tossup once the clock runs out if no team has buzzed in yet. However, the clock-killing neg is counterproductive as the tossup must be reread in its entirety after a team negs, regardless of the clock.
  • Math computation seems to be absent from tossups and bonuses, appearing only in TCQs.

Competition results

Year Champion Second Third Fourth
2022* Canyon Crest Dougherty Valley Lexington (MA) Tesla STEM
2021* Dougherty Valley Lexington (MA) Canyon Crest Santa Monica
2020* Ladue Santa Monica Dougherty Valley Centerville
2019 Albany Santa Monica Ladue Centerville
2018 Montgomery Blair Santa Monica Marshfield Albany
2017 Santa Monica Marshfield NCSSM Centerville
2016 Albany Marshfield Santa Monica Liberty Common
2015 Boise Dexter Marshfield Mission San Jose
2014 Boise Arcadia Juneau-Douglas Bishop Sullivan Catholic
2013 Arcadia Lexington (MA) Juneau-Douglas Neah-Kah-Nie
2012 Marshfield Raleigh Charter Eastside (NJ) Lexington (MA)
2011 Marshfield Lexington (MA) Santa Monica Mt. Sinai
2010 Marshfield Marine Academy Mission San Jose La Jolla
2009 Marshfield Lexington (MA) Cranston Mission San Jose
2008 Lincoln-Sudbury Mission San Jose Santa Monica Dexter
2007 Contocook Cranston Lincoln-Sudbury Santa Monica
2006 Lincoln-Sudbury Poudre Santa Monica Albany
2005 Cranston Lincoln-Sudbury Mission San Jose Oconee County
2004 Mission San Jose
2003 Cranston
2002 Lexington (MA)
2001 Lexington (MA)
2000 Lexington (MA)
1999 Lexington (MA)
1998 Lexington (MA)

* Held online in a modified format.



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