For Individual Volunteers, NOT Groups

Staff the virtual Shore Bowl competition of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB)

Bay Scallop Bowl, Blue Lobster Bowl, and Shore Bowl logos


  • Saturday 3/23/2024, 9:25am to 4pm or 6pm
  • Rain or shine.
  • Sign up by 3/02/2024
    ~7 volunteers are still needed.


Foster enthusiasm for learning by keeping time, keeping score, recognizing students who buzz in, monitoring competitors and coaches on video, and judging science, judging rules*, moderating**, and grading team challenge questions.

This fast-paced question-and-answer competition on marine sciences will pit teams in an academic quiz bowl format. Competitors will use a digital buzzer system to respond to rapid-fire multiple choice and short answer questions. Additionally, team members collaborate to answer complex analytical Team Challenge Questions (TCQs).

While no ocean sciences knowledge is required to serve as a recognizer, timekeeper, scorekeeper, or monitor, a positive and supportive attitude and attention to detail are very important for all roles.

As of 2/24, we need 1 volunteer recognizer, 2-3 ocean sciences graders, 2 rules judges*, 1 timekeeper, and 2 monitors:

  • Moderators Read questions clearly and maintain the pace of the game and the competition room. Must demonstrate excellent public speaking skills and mastery of technology during training/selection process. While one computer is OK, two are ideal so that you will not risk accidentally screen sharing the questions and answers. Moderators are also required to serve as zoom meeting host, for which "how to" instructions will be provided. Prior competition experience as a competitor and/or official is strongly recommended since this person runs the competition zoom meeting.
  • Ocean Science Judges Ensure that Moderators read the questions and answer choices accurately. When needed, help Moderator decide whether an answer is correct. Address scientific challenges. Sometimes review/correct questions in advance of competition Strong ocean sciences background required.
  • Recognizers Control lockout buzzer software and verbally recognize who buzzes in. Requires very reliable internet connection and computer. Fast reactions are critical.
  • Ocean Sciences Graders Grade/score teams' responses to team challenge questions in TCQ software and resolve scientific challenges. Requires strong ocean sciences/STEM background. Work periods are only 9:25-9:45, 10:15am+, and 1:30+pm, but 40-min zoom orientation/training on Sun 3/17 evening is required.
  • Rules Judges Take attendance and ensure consistent screen name usage. Maintain order in the competition rooms, enforce rules, respond to challenges to the rules, and issue warnings. Also cross-train and serve as Scorekeepers and/or Timekeepers during the competition day if needed.
  • Scorekeepers Track and record the teams' scores throughout the game on a google spreadsheet that is shared with teams within zoom. Obtain team captains' confirmation of final score and team winner in zoom chat. Check and submit final scores/scoresheet spreadsheet. Also cross-train and alternate as Rules Judges during the competition day if possible.
  • Timekeepers Mark the game time with an online clock and shared scoresheet that are selectively screen-shared with teams within zoom. Issue loud verbal warnings before time runs out.
  • Monitors Visually observe competitors in zoom to ensure that they are not consulting outside sources of information. Help rules judge enforce rules.

To prepare, all volunteers MUST PARTICIPATE IN 3 hours of scheduled orientation/training and practice two weeks in advance so that they function without errors during this high-intensity competition. (Even if you have volunteered for or participated in NOSB or another quiz bowl in the past, you must participate in training in order to familiarize yourself with the rules & software and to demonstrate your mastery of these roles in zoom.)

If you volunteer for multiple bowls in the SAME role, after your first bowl, no additional training/practice time is required (unless you optionally decide to participate in practice session(s) to help new volunteers master their roles.

*Only experienced volunteers and past competitors, and volunteers with legal backgrounds serve as rules judges, given the complexity of the rules and fast game pace.

**Only experienced volunteers and past competitors generally serve as moderators given the complexity of this role. We encourage past competitors to aspire to this volunteer level and as ocean sciences graders. Moderators must demonstrate mastery of this role by the conclusion of their final practice sessions.

Learn more about the Shore Bowl at



Note: We only shares zoom links, schedules, and other details with registered volunteers and teams since we cannot accommodate any observers/audience members or walk-ins, i.e., unregistered volunteers or teams.


This virtual competition will provide competitors with fun opportunities to test their knowledge and understanding of ocean sciences.

Topics include the biology, chemistry, geology, physics, history, and economics of the ocean as well as ocean-related current events. For more background, visit NOSB's website.

Each volunteer will receive free swag (a cool buff) mailed to him/her/them in advance, so it can be worn while visibly officiating.

Non-science-judge, non-science-grader volunteers need NO STEM/ocean knowledge, just keen attention to detail, positive attitudes toward all competitors and schools, ability to keep up with the fast pace of competition matches, which are played head-to-head in zoom meetings.

It takes 90+ volunteers to staff 12 competition rooms fully for 24 teams, recognizing students who buzz, keeping time, keeping score, monitoring competitors, and judging rules* for round robin and single elimination rounds that precede trophy rounds. We also need experienced Moderators (ideally professors and/or past competitors) and Ocean Sciences Graders for the grading Team Challenge Questions and resolving science challenges.

People Making a Difference (PMD) aims to strengthen the community, including STEM education, by engaging volunteers as officials and role models. PMD has hosted all virtual Blue Lobster Bowl (BLB; MA) and Quahog Bowl (CT & RI) regional competitions "head-to-head" (and all prior in-person BLB competitions at MIT) for the National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB), also founded by Admiral James D. Watkins seven years after he founded the National Science Bowl (NSB).



A 1-hour orientation-training session AND a 2-hour zoom training-practice session is required for all volunteer officials on either:
  • Training Tuesday 3/5, 6:30pm & 8pm
  • Training Thursday 3/7, 6:30pm & 8pm
  • Practice Sunday 3/10, 10am-12noon, 12-2pm & 2-4pm (Daylight Saving Time Begins!)
unless you will serve as an ocean sciences Grader (for which a separate, 40-min zoom meeting is required the Sunday evening before the competition, whose exact time will be scheduled via doodle) OR a Monitor with no back-up roles requiring training and practicing.

To officiate, apply by 3/2 at

Incomplete submissions cannot be honored.

We canNOT accept any UNregistered volunteers.

Participation is required for the entire competition on Saturday, but Sunday afternoon is optional-As teams are eliminated on Sunday, we will try to honor as many volunteers' requests for early dismissal as we can.

AFTER the application deadline for each bowl, interested volunteers can join the backup list, since we anticipate cancellations due to illnesses.
Joining the PMD backup list means making a commitment to reserve the morning and training-practice session you select until the date you provide.

Call PMD if you cannot apply using our form.
If you experience any difficulty applying online to volunteer with PMD, please immediately CALL THE PMD OFFICE at (*82) 1-781-963-0373 so that we can help you AND troubleshoot the problem so that other potential volunteers will not face the same problem. Thanks!

After you apply, you will see a confirmation screen and receive a confirmation email message, so be sure to save your first-choice training-practice and competition dates and times on your calendars AND add AND to your address/white/allow list.

Then a few days before your (assume first-choice unless notified the day after the application deadline) training-practice session and this competition PMD will email specific details, what to expect, checklist, important links/downloads, etc.



Up to 24 teams of students from New Jersey high schools will compete virtually for the state championship. These young people and their teachers/coaches are interested in and knowledgeable about the natural world.

People Making a Difference (PMD) is a nonprofit organization that promotes informed and responsible volunteerism by involving people in tangible work that meets local needs and by assisting companies in building successful community involvement programs that:
  • Produce appreciable results while conserving recipients' limited resources
  • Educate volunteers about broader issues
  • Bring people together to make a difference
PMD is also hosting both the virtual 2/2&3/24 MA Blue Lobster Bowl, for which we also need volunteers who to apply at by 2/7
2/3&4 NY Bay Scallop Bowl, for which we also need volunteers who to apply at by 2/7 and 1/13



"We need to respect the oceans and take care of them as if our lives depended on it. Because they do."
-Sylvia Earle

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