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Bishop Sullivan Tops Blue Crab Bowl Academic Quiz for Ninth Straight Year

By Tom Robinson

When it comes to the Blue Crab Bowl, Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School's budding ocean scientists agree that nine is fine.

A team from Bishop Sullivan in Virginia Beach won the academic quiz competition for the ninth consecutive year Saturday, Feb. 6 at Old Dominion University. Co-hosted by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, the 19th annual Blue Crab Bowl pitted 16 teams of Virginia high school students from 10 schools in one of 25 regional competitions affiliated with the National Ocean Sciences Bowl.

Like all the regional winners, Bishop Sullivan will advance to the National Ocean Sciences Bowl finals in Morehead City, N.C. on April 21-24.

The teams at Old Dominion took part in a round-robin, double-elimination tournament, answering rapid-fire, quiz-bowl style questions in such areas as chemistry, biology, physical oceanography and marine technology. The four-student teams also responded to longer analytical challenges with written answers.

Bishop Sullivan fielded teams A and B; its Team A won. Other competitors were Broadwater Academy A and B (Exmore); Chesapeake Bay Governor's School (Glenns); Chesapeake Bay Governor's School A and B (Warsaw campus); Churchland (Portsmouth); Culpeper County A and B (Culpeper); Fauquier (Warrenton); Governor's School for Science and Technology, New Horizons A and B (Hampton); Isle of Wight Academy (Isle of Wight); and Seton School A and B (Manassas).

Finishing as runner-up to Bishop Sullivan was Chesapeake Bay Governor's School A (Warsaw campus). Broadwater Academy A claimed third place, and Broadwater Academy B came in fourth.

"They are definitely a powerhouse," said Victoria Hill, research associate professor at Old Dominion, who coordinates the competition with Carol Hopper Brill of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. "They have a junior varsity team, so they have to compete to earn a place on the team that comes to the bowl."

The National Ocean Sciences Bowl was launched in 1998 by the Consortium for Oceanographic Research and Education. It serves to generate student interest and excitement about science and the oceans and to provide a venue for students to excel and earn regional and national recognition.

Additionally, it gives young people a chance to examine marine science as a field of study and possible career path.

Hill, who serves as a science judge at the national finals, said the exposure the students get to Old Dominion's oceanography faculty and students who take part in the Blue Crab Bowl can be life-changing.

"Seeing all of these people who are passionate about science opens them up to this as a possible career choice," said Hill, an arctic researcher. "When I was in school, I didn't know there was such a thing as oceanography. I had no exposure to research scientists. This can open their eyes to the fact that there are opportunities for them out there."

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