Picture a game show atmosphere somewhat like Jeopardy, where teams of high school students buzz in to answer questions about the Great Lakes and oceans. That’s the 2014 Great Lakes Bowl, a regional National Ocean Sciences Bowl, in a nutshell.

NOSB is a national academic competition where student teams compete for the regional and national title. The questions focus on math and science related to ocean and Great Lakes biology, chemistry, geology, physics, technology, history and economics.

The Great Lakes NOSB was held February 1, 2014, on the University of Michigan's campus, hosted by Michigan Sea Grant.

Graduate student volunteers representing the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology were: Rachel Cable, Alison Gould, Anneka Jankowiak, Jingchun Li, Celia Miller, Marian Schmidt, Jeff Shi, and Lisa Walsh.

Gould said, “I've been volunteering for this event for six years now.” She was a part of the Sea Lion Bowl in San Francisco when she was a master’s student at San Francisco State University. “I think it's such an awesome event! The high school kids who participate in this event are so ‘cool’ (in a non-traditional sense) Some teams even dress up in team costumes think shark hats!”

Gould didn’t see any costumes this year and notes that due to the weather a few teams didn’t make it, including the team from Sault Ste. Marie that dressed up last year. “The vibe was a little more serious this year, especially between some of the former champions (Dexter and Greenhills). Both schools were prepared and came to win, although Dexter took back the title this time,” she said.

“For me, this volunteer experience is a really great way to share my excitement for ocean sciences with high school kids. I especially enjoy seeing the crazy amount of knowledge that the students have learned in all aspects of marine science. They are so smart! I was excited to learn about the Great Lakes Bowl here at U-M. It's wonderful that the university hosts such a great event. This year I was a rules judge for the competition.”

Walsh was stationed in a room with Jankowiak, who was the room moderator reading the science bowl questions and responding to students when they buzzed in. Walsh was a runner, carrying team answers to judges who awarded team points. “This was my first time volunteering and I had a blast! It was fun hearing the kinds of biology questions they asked high school students,” said Walsh.

This was a first year taking part for Shi, who was a moderator. Li was a rules judge and this was her first time volunteering as well. 

Regional competitions are held throughout the nation in February and March, with the final national competition held in April. This year’s national competition will take place in Seattle, Wash., May 1-4, 2014 with the theme of ocean acidification.

The GLB website states, “The Great Lakes NOSB would not take place without our wonderful volunteers. Every year, we have highly qualified volunteers that donate a Saturday to encourage these high school students to pursue higher education in science. The high school students really enjoy hearing about all the diverse careers and experiences that volunteers bring to the Great Lakes Bowl.”

Read more on the Michigan Sea Grant website