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State's Top High School Science Students Compete in Annual Blue Crab Bowl

By Betsy Hnath

Top science students from nine Virginia high schools gathered on Feb. 3 for the 21st Annual Blue Crab Bowl, a cooperative effort between the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William and Mary, and Old Dominion University's Department of Ocean, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences.

A total of thirteen teams participated in the heated day of competition focused on the marine sciences at Old Dominion University's Higher Education Center in Virginia Beach.

Victoria Hill, assistant research professor in Old Dominion's Department of Ocean, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences (OEAS) coordinated this year's event along with Carol Hopper Brill, marine education specialist from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.

Seventy scientists, including faculty, graduate students and staff from both institutions, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other organizations, donated their time to assist in the contest.

Designed to inspire and challenge high school students, NOSB contests like the Blue Crab Bowl test the competitors' knowledge of the marine sciences, covering the breadth of oceanography and maritime disciplines.

Guided by teacher-coaches, students broadened their awareness and understanding of the oceans as they prepared for competition.

This year's theme for the National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB) and its local competitions is "Our Ocean Shaping Weather."

Based on answers to questions designed by marine scientists and educators, the competition tested students' knowledge of oceanography, geology, biology, maritime history and policy.

By late afternoon, four top contenders remained from the initial field of thirteen teams.

Seton School Team A from Manassas captured First Place. In a very close Second Place was Seton School's Team B - the first time a single school has taken the top two positions. Third Place went to long-time champs Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School from Virginia Beach. Chesapeake Bay Governor's School, Glenns Campus Team A came in fourth.

Students received prizes -- including custom-made trophies for the top four teams ̶ presented by Fred Dobbs, professor and chair of Old Dominion University's Department of Ocean, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.

Coaches received science teaching resources and memberships in the Mid-Atlantic Marine Education Association.

All teams were applauded for their accomplishments and encouraged to continue their studies in interdisciplinary marine sciences.

Seton School Team A will represent Virginia in the national competition, facing other regional champions at the National NOSB finals, April 19-22, in Boulder, Colorado.

Over 1,625 of the Commonwealth's brightest science students from 53 public and private schools across Virginia's have competed in the Blue Crab Bowl since its inaugural competition in 1998.

The National Ocean Science Bowl is a program of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership in Washington, DC. NOSB seeks to interest students in ocean science as a college major and potential career. Through over 20 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 2018, nearly 2,000 students from 300 high schools around the country will participate in this 21st annual event.

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