Information for Coaches and Teams

Dear Virginia Educators:

Each year the invitation for Blue Crab Bowl opens in September. Visit then for information on upcoming dates and registration deadlines. Pre-Registrations (Statements of Intent) for participation in the Blue Crab Bowl are accepted per the dates posted in the Fast Facts sidebar.

The Blue Crab Bowl — Virginia’s regional competition leading to the National Ocean Science Bowl (NOSB®) — remains a popular way for high school science teachers to engage motivated students. The challenge of competition can stimulate and enrich student mastery of science in many marine-related subjects: biological, physical, chemical, earth and environmental sciences, marine engineering and technology, geography, maritime history, as well as current issues in marine research, economics and policy.  Moreover, the team structure of the Bowl encourages cooperative learning and problem-solving. Watch a video that demonstrates a competition match and interviews students.

Blue Crab Bowl staff and volunteers at the Old Dominion University (ODU) and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) encourage your participation. Up to sixteen teams are selected by lottery. Only the selected teams have to assemble the extensive registration paperwork. Other teams will remain on the waiting list, in order of their lottery drawing.

If you are a high school teacher and haven’t considered coaching a team, please think about what this investment offers your students. Veteran coaches credit the National Ocean Sciences Bowl for sparking student interest in sciences and for helping to win administration support for courses in marine-related sciences and technology.

This year’s competition will take place on February 15-16, 2019 at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science in Gloucester Point, VA. Download last year's Blue Crab Bowl event program in the Fast Facts sidebar to see who participated and get a feeling for the event.  And, check out our video with interviews of past participants.

If you need documentation to present to your school administration or other supporters, you can download a BCB flier or, see the most current event program for an overview of the event. NOSB’s extensive website has all the latest information about this national competition, its objectives and sponsoring agencies. Plus, NOSB offers resource lists and great tips on preparing a team for competition.

Feel free to share this information with science teachers at your school. If you have questions about BCB, don’t hesitate to contact us.

We look forward to working with you and your team!


Blue Crab Bowl Coordinator
Carol Hopper Brill (VIMS)

Using an academic quiz bowl format, the Blue Crab Bowl tests competitors’ knowledge of the marine sciences. In each match, two teams of four students face off to earn points and wins. Using a buzzer system, competitors respond individually to rapid-fire multiple choice questions. They can collaborate on short answer questions and work cooperatively to produce written answers to complex analytical questions. Points are earned from three types of questions: toss-up questions, worth four points; bonus questions, worth six points; and team challenge questions, worth up to 20 points.

Sixteen teams begin competition in round-robin divisions; all proceed to elimination tournaments that determine which teams will enter the trophy rounds. These final rounds determine the top four placing winners. The first place team represents Virginia at the national competition.

Competition officials manage the matches, enforce rules and determine answer acceptability. 

See the Game in a Crab Shell handout for more detail about questions, points, officials, timing, and competition structure.

Download the official NOSB rules, practice questions, study resources and more from the "Learn" page on the NOSB website.

There's More to NOSB Than Just the Competition!
The Consortium for Ocean Leadership is committed to providing exceptional opportunities for students and coaches participating in NOSB competitions. For more information visit the NOSB website.

Scholarships for Blue Crab Bowl students:
The NOSB's National Ocean Scholar Program (NOSP) is available to students interested in ocean and marine science.

NOSB and Ocean Science News - visit the NOSB website

  • Keep up with NOSB news and announcements via Facebook, Twitter & RSS feed
  • Track breaking news stories in the ocean sciences

Play the NOSB Online Ocean Sciences Quiz
Developed by MIT, this online version of NOSB competition lest you test your ocean science knowledge. A single person can play, or you can compete against a friend. Check it out!

September 1, 2018: invitation opens for Pre-Registration (Statement of Intent).

November 1, 2018: last day to submit Pre-registration form. Participants will be selected by lottery.

November 2, 2018: Teams selected to compete are notified; waitlisted teams are notified.

December 14, 2018: Selected teams' complete registration forms & fees are due.

February 15 & 16, 2019:

Blue Crab Bowl
Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Gloucester Point, VA
Friday, February 15: science experience to be determined

Inclusive event times:
Friday from 1:30 p.m. to ~9:00 p.m. and
Saturday from 8 a.m. to ~ 6 p.m.

April 2019:

22nd Annual National Ocean Sciences Bowl
Championship Competition Finals
Location to be announced


Teams pay a registration fee of $50 per team to help support Bowl day costs.

Teams are responsible for their own transportation to/from the BCB venues.

BCB provides some financial assistance covering hotel accommodations for competing teams (2 rooms per team). For additional chaperones and supporters: field trip, hotel and meal expenses are the responsibility of the team or individual.

Please note: Sale of meals and competition t-shirts to non-competitors is subject to administrative constraints.

NOSB Finals: Travel-related costs include roundtrip airfare, 3 nights hotel, and any meal or transportation not provided as part of scheduled NOSB Competition activities. NOSB typically covers some of these expenses for one coach and five student competitors.

Who can compete in the Blue Crab Bowl?
Virginia* high schools and secondary level education organizations are eligible to compete.

*Public and private high schools in the following cities and counties near Washington, DC, should apply to the Chesapeake Bay Bowl: Alexandria; Annandale; Arlington; Ashburn; Falls Church; Leesburg; McLean; Sterling; and Fairfax and Loudoun Counties. Contact: Regional Coordinator Christopher Petrone, email: petrone@udel.edu or phone 302-645-4308.

A Blue Crab Bowl team consists of four competitors (a captain and three team mates), plus one alternate player and an adult coach. The coach must be a teacher, official or designate from the team’s school or an employee, official or designate with an education program that is sponsoring a team. The Coach of Record serves as the primary and official contact for the team in all communications with the Blue Crab Bowl/National Ocean Sciences Bowl.

Please review the Blue Crab Bowl complete policy on team composition, coach responsibilities and sportsmanship, as well as competitor behavioral expectations.

Who else can attend?
Classmates, teachers and parents are encouraged to support their school team. There are, however, space limitations in some competition venues and activities. Space permitting, spectators are welcome in competition rooms, but special guidelines apply. Spectators may participate in special BCB activities on a space-available basis and will be responsible for associated fees.

Please review the Blue Crab Bowl policy on event spectator participation and behavioral expectations.

NOSB® offers

  • coaches advice on recruiting a team and developing a study timeline
  • sample buzzer questions and team challenge questions
  • recommendations for textbook and website resources
  • tips on setting up practice matches with room set-up and buzzer system

Visit the Bridge. The Ocean Topics sections are good for content preparation. DATA Series offer practice with data analysis skills.

Keep up with NOSB news and announcements via Facebook, Twitter & RSS feed

Track breaking news stories in the ocean sciences

Play the NOSB Online Ocean Sciences Quiz
Developed by MIT, this online version of NOSB competition lest you test your ocean science knowledge. A single person can play, or you can compete against a friend. Check it out!

FAST Facts

Virginia Institute of Marine Science
Gloucester Point, VA
Feb 15-16, 2019

National Ocean Sciences Bowl Finals Competition April 2019
Date & location to be announced