Great Lakes Bowl (NOSB)

Coming February 2021

Hosted by Michigan Sea Grant

What is it?

The National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB) is a national academic competition where teams of high school students compete for the regional and national title. The matches feature quiz-bowl style rounds and challenge questions that test a team’s ocean and Great Lakes knowledge.

The questions focus on math and science related to ocean and Great Lakes biology, chemistry, geology, physics, technology, history, and economics.

Regional competitions are held throughout the nation in February and March, with the final national competition held between April and early Summer. Michigan Sea Grant hosts the regional Great Lakes Bowl at the University of Michigan.

Where and when?

The date and location of the national competition will be released later this year. The NOSB Great Lakes Bowl will be held virtually through Zoom on Saturday, February 6, 2021. The date and location of the national competition will be released later this year.

Who competes?

Teams consisting of four high school students and one alternate compete in question-and-answer matches during the competition.

The competition format is a six-minute buzzer round, then two team challenge questions, followed by another six-minute buzzer round. Team challenge questions require data analysis and synthesis of science and math concepts.

To ensure the safety of our competitors and volunteers, the 2021 Great Lakes Bowl will be held virtually. We want to ensure that all teams have the same opportunity to showcase their ocean and Great Lakes knowledge, without internet connectivity getting in the way. Thus, the format will not involve head-to-head, direct face-off matchups. Instead, all teams will have the opportunity to answer the same number of questions during each round, and their scores will determine the winning team. We thank our competitors and volunteers for their patience as we all adjust to this new, temporary format. Please direct any questions about the change to nosb-great-lakes-bowl@umich.edu.

What are the prizes?

The Great Lakes Bowl will award cash prizes, trophies, medals, and other prizes to top finishers.

National prizes have included cruises on aquatic research vessels, visits to research laboratories, computer hardware and software for the winning team’s school, scientific equipment and laboratory supplies, scholarships, endowments, T-shirts, trophies and medals.

How do I compete?

The Great Lakes Bowl is limited to 16 teams. Team entry in the event is approved on a first-come, first-served basis. Teams must submit all required forms to be approved for entry into the event.

Get ready for the 2021 competition! Team registration will open in Fall 2020.

For more information, please email nosb-great-lakes-bowl@umich.edu.

Extra, extra — read all about it!


Get the full scoop about NOSB — and advice from veteran coaches about starting a new team — in this article from our March 2020 issue of Upwellings. 

How can I volunteer?

Volunteers help the event run smoothly and get to spend time with the next generation of scientists and engineers. No specialized freshwater or marine knowledge is required. Volunteers receive free breakfast, lunch, and event t-shirt.

To learn more or sign up, contact nosb-great-lakes-bowl@umich.edu.

Note: Because the event involves high school students, the university requires volunteers to pass a background check and complete a brief online training module.

What resources can Michigan Sea Grant provide to teams?

Teams can practice with the official buzzer system and borrow reference materials.

Reference textbooks in the Michigan Sea Grant collection include:

  • Essentials of Oceanography 6th edition: Tom Garrison
  • Ocean Studies Introduction to Oceanography 2nd Edition: Joseph Moran
  • Introduction to Oceanography 9th edition: Harold Thurman and Elizabeth Burton
  • Life on an Ocean Planet: Bob Wohlers Save & Exit
  • Introduction to the World’s Oceans 10th edition: Keith Sverdrup and Virginia Armbrust
  • Invitation to Oceanography 3rd edition: Paul Pinet
  • Oceanography: An Invitation to Marine Science 6th edition: Tom Garrison

Due to COVID-19 precautions, requests for reference books will be sent through UPS. Pick-up at the Michigan Sea Grant office is not available at this time.

Please email nosb-great-lakes-bowl@umich.edu to find out which resources are available.