Science and Technology News

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

ONR Supports Competition, Seeks to Spur Interest in STEM Careers

By Geoff Fein, Office of Naval Research Public Affairs

ARLINGTON, Va. (NNS) -- Co-sponsored by the Office of Naval Research (ONR), the 14th annual National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB) will bring together students from 25 high schools from across the country to compete April 28-May 1 at Texas A&M University.

ONR's sponsorship of the event supports two goals -- backing an effort to advance student interest in oceanographic research and encouraging America's youth to pursue careers in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines.

"The National Ocean Science Bowl provides high school students with the opportunity to learn about the ocean and its importance to climate, weather and the economy," said Dr. Joan Cleveland, acting deputy division director of ONR's Ocean Sensing and Systems Division.

Over the course of the four-day event, NOSB tests students' knowledge of the ocean through a question and answer (Q&A)-style competition. Teams initially are organized into five divisions for a round robin competition. The top three teams from each bracket, along with the top fourth place finisher overall, will advance to a double elimination tournament. After two losses, teams are eliminated until a winner emerges.

"Seventy-nine percent of former competitors that responded to a survey chose to major in a STEM field in college," Cleveland said. "We hope that some of them go on to become ONR investigators."

Since the competition's inception in 1998, ONR and several governmental agencies, nonprofit organizations, colleges and universities have provided support to the Consortium for Ocean Leadership, the organization behind NOSB. ONR contributes $200,000, roughly 10 percent of the annual $2 million in grants raised, to hold the event. Other contributors include the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the event's largest sponsor, and the Oceanographer of the Navy.

In addition to its financial support, ONR will also send a Navy reservist to Galveston, Texas, to judge the competition and the finals, Cleveland said.

NOSB has four primary goals: to broaden students' and teachers' awareness of the latest scientific research on the oceans; to help teachers use oceanography as a tool for cross-disciplinary science education; to provide oceanographic research programs outreach opportunities to students; and to boost participation by minorities, women and disadvantaged students.

Over two weekends in February and March, 300 schools and more than 2,000 students participated in 25 regional competitions. First place teams from each area earned a trip to the national finals. Teams that place first through fourth at the national event win an award trip.

For a complete list of the 2011 NOSB finals teams go to>
About the Office of Naval Research

The Department of the Navy's Office of Naval Research (ONR) provides the science and technology necessary to maintain the Navy and Marine Corps' technological advantage. Through its affiliates, ONR is a leader in science and technology with engagement in 50 states, 70 countries, 1,035 institutions of higher learning and 914 industry partners. ONR employs approximately 1,400 people, comprising uniformed, civilian and contract personnel, with additional employees at the Naval Research Lab in Washington, D.C.

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