General Format

The National Ocean Sciences Bowl consists of a Round-Robin/Elimination format. The format involves a timed competition of multiple-choice and short-answer questions within the broad category of the oceans. Questions are drawn from the scientific and technical disciplines used in studying the oceans (physics, chemistry, geology, atmospheric science, biology, etc.) as well as from topics on the contributions of the oceans to national and international economics, history, policy, and culture.

Virtual NOSB Competition Rules 2021 (as of 11/2020)

NOSB Competition Rules 2019-2020 (as of 10/2019)

VIDEO – See and hear parts of a competition

VIDEO – Virtual Bowl Example: NOSB 2020 Battle of the Ages

Details on Competition

The Consortium for Ocean Leadership, with the assistance of scientific question writers, a Technical Advisory Panel, and the NOSB Regional Coordinators, prepares the competition rules and regulations and the specific questions to be used in both the regional and national competitions.

The National Ocean Sciences Bowl is a timed competition (defined as the use of “lock-out”- type buzzer systems and clocks)¬†between two teams. Each match consists of a series of toss-up (multiple-choice) questions that individual team members must answer without collaboration. A team that correctly responds to a toss-up question is given a bonus question (short answer) to answer as a team.

Additionally, two Team Challenge Questions (TCQs) are provided in written form and require teamwork and extra time to complete. Unlike the toss-up and bonus questions, both teams can answer the TCQ and win points for their correct responses. Each match has two TCQs and 20 toss-up questions (paired with an equal number of bonus questions). Matches consist of two 6-minute buzzer segments with a 2-minute break in between. Additional time is given during the break for TCQs. While regional competitions are generally completed in one day, the finals are held over a two-day period. Regional competitions consist of ~15 matches (or rounds), including tie-breakers as necessary. Teams are placed in divisions, and each team plays only the other teams in its own division during Round-Robin rounds. This is followed by Single Elimination segments for final rounds (quarterfinals, semi-finals, and finals). The winning teams from each of the 25 competitions are provided transportation and room and board for the final national competition. The location for the final competition changes annually.

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