Norfolk Collegiate takes top spot in 2019 Blue Crab Bowl

  • 1st Place: Norfolk Collegiate School  Coached by Dr. Frank Thomson (far left), team members are (L-R): Kendra Honey, Team Captain Braeden Thomson, Austin Honey, Carson Giocondo, and Libby Snowden.  © Chris Katella/VIMS
  • 2nd Place: Broadwater Academy - Team A  Coached by science teachers Joseph Spagnolo and Charles Carlson (not pictured), team members are (L-R): Finn Kelly; Brian Drummond; Nathan Crumb; Team Captain Brandon Stubbs, and Kate Gomer.  © Chris Katella/VIMS
  • 3rd Place: Chesapeake Bay Governor's School - Warsaw Campus  Coached by science teacher James Beam (far left), team members are (L-R): Cecelia MacNamara; Team Captain Tahi Wiggins; Anna Pitts; Roman Cutler; and Nathan Parker.  © Chris Katella/VIMS
  • 4th Place: Fauquier High School  Coached by science teacher George Murphy (far right), team members are (L-R): Team Captain Addie Bowman, Tim Henson, Walker Evans, Ashley McGregor, and Morgan Pletch.  © Chris Katella/VIMS
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Top science students from Virginia compete in 22nd-annual regional ocean science bowl

Norfolk Collegiate School—a first-time competitor—landed the top spot in the 22nd-annual Blue Crab Bowl at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science on February 16th. Runner-up was Broadwater Academy Team A from Exmore, while Chesapeake Bay Governor’s School – Warsaw Campus took third and Fauquier High School from Warrenton took fourth.

The Blue Crab Bowl is the Virginia regional competition of the National Ocean Science Bowl (NOSB©), an annual academic contest to test knowledge of the oceans among high-school students. Norfolk Collegiate will move on to represent the Commonwealth at the National Ocean Science Bowl on April 11-14 in Washington, D.C. The theme of the 2019 Bowl and its regional competitions is “Observe the Ocean; Secure the Future.”

Members of Team B from Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School in Virginia Beach discuss a bonus follow-up question. © C. Katella/VIMS.This year’s Blue Crab Bowl pitted 16 teams representing 12 Virginia high schools from across the Commonwealth. Competing with the top-four finishers were teams from Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School (Virginia Beach); Chesapeake Bay Governor’s School, Glenns Campus; Churchland High School (Portsmouth); Governor’s School for Science & Technology – New Horizons (Hampton); Isle of Wight Academy; Maury High School (Norfolk); Seton School (Manassas), and York High School (Yorktown).

Dr. Carol Hopper Brill, VIMS Marine Education Specialist, addresses the Blue Crab Bowl attendees. © C. Katella/VIMSDr. Carol Hopper-Brill, the event organizer at VIMS, says the day “included twists and turns, and surprises from a team new to the competition.” The competitors—nearly 80 students in all—vied in more than 45 contests encompassing 10 rounds of both round-robin and double-elimination matches.

The teams also enjoyed tours of selected research laboratories at VIMS, learning about zooplankton ecology, coastal geology, multispecies research, benthic ecology, immunology and biosensors, and the Ichthyology Collection. They also enjoyed a scientific presentation on drone technology by VIMS professor Donglai Gong. Hopper-Brill says “the coaches were really pleased with the lab tours, with one saying the tour alone was worth the long road trip.” Blue Crab Bowl participants watch as marine scientist Deb Gauthier dissects a fish caught during one of VIMS’ multispecies monitoring and assessment surveys. © C. Katella/VIMS.She notes that the students also appreciated the opportunity to meet and talk with so many people working in the marine sciences.

The Blue Crab Bowl is a cooperative effort between VIMS, William & Mary; and Old Dominion University’s Department of Ocean, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences, with the annual competition alternating between the two venues. More than 75 scientists, including faculty, graduate students, and staff from both institutions, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and other organizations donated many hours of their time to ensure the success of this year’s event.

Virginia’s Blue Crab Bowl was among the inaugural NOSB competitions in 1998. To date, it has provided a competitive outlet for 1,700 of the Commonwealth’s brightest science students from 54 public and private schools across Virginia.

Hopper-Brill says, “Using questions designed by marine scientists and educators, the contest tests students’ knowledge of oceanography, geology, biology, maritime history, and policy. The Bowl provides a forum for students who excel in math and science to receive regional and national recognition for their diligence and talent.”

At the end of this year’s event, all teams were recognized during the Awards Ceremony by Brill and her fellow Bowl Coordinator, Bill Dunn of ODU. Prizes—including custom-made ceramic trophies for the top four teams—were presented by Dr. David Rudders, representing VIMS’ Marine Advisory Program, and Dr. Fred Dobbs, representing ODU’s Department of Ocean, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. All students received prizes, were applauded for their accomplishments, and encouraged to continue their studies in interdisciplinary marine sciences. Coaches received science teaching resources and memberships in the Mid-Atlantic Marine Education Association.

The National Ocean Science Bowl is a program of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership in Washington, D.C. NOSB seeks to interest students in ocean science as a college major and potential career. Through 25 regional competitions across the nation, NOSB provides an educational forum intended to generate student interest in the ocean sciences; improve awareness of our oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes; and create an “ocean literate” society that can meet the ocean challenges of the future. During 2019, nearly 2,000 students from 300 high schools around the country will participate in this 22nd-annual event.


The Blue Crab Bowl is made possible by the generous support of national, regional, and local sponsors. Sponsors of the 2019 event include VIMS and W&M; ODU’s Department of Ocean Earth & Atmospheric Sciences; Virginia Sea Grant; Hampton Inn-Gloucester; the Poddery in Mathews; the Mid-Atlantic Marine Education Association; and Leave Only Bubbles/What If Scientific. For a list of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership’s national sponsors, visit the NOSB website at

2019 Teams
  • Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School – Teams A & B, Virginia Beach
  • Broadwater Academy – Teams A & B, Exmore
  • Chesapeake Bay Governor’s School, Glenns Campus, Glenns
  • Chesapeake Bay Governor’s School for Marine & Environmental Science, Warsaw Campus, Warsaw
  • Churchland High School, Portsmouth
  • Fauquier High School, Warrenton
  • Governor’s School for Science & Technology – New Horizons, Hampton
  • Isle of Wight Academy – Teams A & B, Isle of Wight
  • Maury High School, Norfolk
  • Norfolk Collegiate School, Norfolk
  • Seton School – Teams A & B, Manassas
  • York High School, Yorktown