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The Student Newspaper of MAST Academy, since 1991.
The Student News Site of MAST Academy

The Beacon

The Beacon

A win for MAST’s NOSB club

By Isabella Zimmermann

            On March 27, MAST’s NOSB Club, which stands for National Ocean Science Bowl, competed in the South Florida Manatee Bowl against 11 other teams, with Team A winning 2nd place overall. 

             The NOSB club has two teams. Team A is typically made up of upperclassmen and seniors that are more experienced. This year, co-captains Mia Gomez and Juan Luchsinger led members Alex Nelson, Sofia Chipoco, and Ashley Walker. 

Team B, which is made up of everyone else on the club, was led by co-captains Niccholas Reiz and Elisavetta Stetsenko, with club members Stella Bagno, Sally Leonardi, and Maria Jose Perez Molina.

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NOSB club zoom meeting. Photo courtesy of Mia Gomez.

            “NOSB is basically like jeopardy but for marine science,” Luchsinger said about the competition. “You compete against other teams in timed buzzer questions.”

            The competition sets a theme each year so competitors know which area of marine science to study. This year’s topic was Polar Seas, and as a group, they had to adjust to competing in a new online format.

            “We had a couple of meetings where we did Kahoots or buzzer questions, which basically was reading out multiple choice questions. Somebody had to buzz in or type ‘B’ in the Zoom box to practice what we would do in the virtual competition this year,” Gomez said about preparing for the big day. “You can’t really prepare for what you don’t know. The way we prepare is we study the topic in general of things that are important that could be asked or have been asked in years before. If there’s any new policies or anything going on in the news, that could be mentioned.” 

            A couple of months before the competition was scheduled, a meeting with NOSB was set up where they showed the coaches for both teams how the online competition would be set up. With the help of that information, the teams got ready for how they would answer questions on their computers.

            The club met for practice Tuesday and Thursday of every week, and as the competition drew near, meeting times became longer. Club members either became specialized in a certain topic or shared two topics with someone else to maximize their knowledge.  

            “The actual day [of the competition] is usually stressful but also fun,” Luchsinger said. “This year was different in that each team competed in a different breakout room and all their scores were compared with each other. Normally it would be two teams in one room competing against each other and it’s more about buzzing first than knowing the answer but here we didn’t have to buzz in as fast.”

            In previous years, teams would compete in-person and would gather around a sheet of paper and write on it at the same time. But with members answering questions from their own homes this year, responses had to be typed into the Zoom chat and copied onto an email for non-buzzer questions instead. 

            The competition is sorted into four rounds. Each round has buzzer questions, team challenge questions, and bonus questions. This year, the first team who typed ‘B’ would be able to answer the question. 

            “If you get that [buzzer] question right, you get four points and your whole team together gets to answer a bonus question which is worth six points,” Gomez said. The bonus question is usually a short-answer question that the team has to respond to.

            After completing 20 buzzer questions, the team has to complete two team challenge questions, which are worksheets that have to do with a certain topic and have to be filled out in five to six minutes.

            “Last year one of our team challenge questions was the anatomy of a dolphin. We were being timed while doing it and we had to identify all of the parts of a dolphin,” Gomez said. “They can literally be any type of question, any amount of points per question,” she added. The maximum is usually 20 points for each team challenge question. After those two questions are completed, the team moves on to finish 20 more buzzer and bonus questions.

            Each team got their own room with their own judges, coaches, and four officials: a moderator that read all the questions, a timekeeper, a scorekeeper, and a scientist to clarify any questions or pronunciations of any words.

            “It was interesting because we just weren’t used to [this] format and even though we had practiced it, we were like ‘I really hope that we do okay!’ You never know what the questions are going to be, so sometimes they can be the easiest things in the world or literally have words that people in the room don’t know what they are,” Gomez said.

            Out of the 11 teams competing this year, only three schools had an A and B team, including MAST. In the preliminary rounds, Team A scored 350 points, while Team B scored 276. MAST advanced to what is called the “Elite 8” rounds, where eight teams compete to move on to the final four. The organizers sent emails for the Zoom link for the round and an email with all the results and announcements of the people who were advancing once all the rounds were done.

            “I was hollering in my house like ‘Oh my god!’ because it was so exciting. Everyone in our group chat was freaking out,” Gomez said about finding out that MAST would advance to the final four.

            Of the four teams, Gulliver led with 73 points, followed by Cypress Bay with 59, our own MAST team with 57, and then St. Edward’s with 56.

            “I’ve been doing NOSB for four years. We’ve been doing this for a long time. In my four years, this year and last year were the first times I was on Team A. I, in any of the teams, had never gone higher than 5th or 6th place,” Gomez said.

            The final four teams moved on to the Championship Round where the final two fight for either first or second place. MAST’s Team A got 86 points, while Gulliver Prep won with 102.

            “Questions start easy and then get harder with each round,” Luchsinger said. “Some questions we were asked this year were ‘What is the Anthropocene?’ Who was the first and only woman to pilot the Alvin submarine? How does Costasiella kuroshimae, a sea slug found off the coast of Japan, obtain its energy?’” 

            MAST won second place by the end of the competition, an exciting result especially for the seniors in the club.

NOSB club group picture. Photo courtesy of Mia Gomez.

            “I’m so proud of my team. We did so well. I’ve never made it to second place before, and the fact that we did it all virtually, too,” Gomez said. “You would think virtual means easier, but I’ve never heard of any of the vocabulary words they used ever in my life. They definitely didn’t make it easier than it would have been in person.”

            Their spot in 2nd place was also a source of relief to some members, as moving on to the national competition would have meant doing more rounds of questions, in addition to a project that the club would have had to present.

            “I’m really happy to have been doing [NOSB] since freshman year, and it’s definitely my favorite club at MAST,” said Luchsinger.

            The Manatee Bowl was hosted by Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute. Co-captain Mia Gomez, who has committed to FAU’s Honors College and plans to major in marine biology, plans to volunteer for NOSB in the upcoming years even after graduating from MAST, and hopes that new members will also be able to enjoy NOSB.

            “It’s a really fun experience, not just because you learn things but because we become really close as team members because of the amount of times that we’re practicing. We’re a close-knit group,” Gomez said. “Anybody who is interested can join, it’s just a matter of reaching out to either me or Ms. Jimenez.”

NOSB club logo. Photo courtesy of Mia Gomez.

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A win for MAST’s NOSB club