Information for Officials

You can contribute to science education in Virginia and help spark the next generation of aspiring marine scientists. Volunteer recruitment for Blue Crab Bowl begins in the fall. For volunteer training schedules, contact Coordinators at VIMS and ODU.

Each winter, Old Dominion University’s Department of Ocean and Earth Sciences (OES) and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS), College of William & Mary co-host a high school academic competition focused on the ocean sciences. Up to sixteen teams from across the state participate - see the link in the FAST Facts column on the right.

Our Virginia regional competition is one of 25 contests conducted around the nation each year as part of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB®), a program coordinated by the Consortium for Ocean Leadership in Washington, DC. NOSB seeks to generate student interest and excitement about science and the oceans, and give young people a chance to examine marine science as a field of study and possible career path. Learn more about NOSB at their website, www.nosb.org/. The winner of the Blue Crab Bowl faces other top regional teams in April at the national competition.

We Need Your Expertise, Enthusiasm and Time

Inspiring young marine scientists is rewarding, but it does take some work! About 70 volunteers are needed to run the event. ODU and VIMS each contribute 4 teams of match officials. And, we need additional scientists to grade the Team Challenge Questions, as well as other volunteers to help with event operations. For a position that suits you, review the Officials' Job Descriptions (tab on this page). More detailed descriptions of responsibilities are in the Blue Crab Bowl Library.

See students and volunteer officials in action in the Blue Crab Bowl video.

Volunteer Training is Key to a Successful Competition

The volunteer’s competition overview introduces many aspects of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl and Blue Crab Bowl (BCB). Since BCB is a serious academic competition, volunteers want and need to be confident and competent as officials, judges and staffers. The best way to be ready is to practice with the rules and the competition set up.

Orientations and training/practice sessions are scheduled at both ODU and VIMS. It’s actually a lot of fun. You get you know your colleagues, show off your expertise and test your reflexes.

Volunteer recruitment for Blue Crab Bowl begins in the fall! For more information, contact the Coordinators.

Questions? Contact:


Bill Dunn, ODU, 757-683-5643 or wdunn@odu.edu

At VIMS:  

Bethany Smith, VIMS, 804-684-7735 or bsmith@vims.edu

The thumbnail sketches below introduce the different Blue Crab Bowl volunteer jobs and may help you choose a role that is right for you. Key jobs link to longer BCB versions of NOSB® descriptions of the officials’ duties.

For more about officials' responsibilities, see the BCB Officials' Details & Best Practices, Match Outline, NOSB Rules, and other documents in the Officials' Library.

The most recent NOSB Rules are posted in the FAST Facts column on the right. All other handouts below are the most current available. Any further updates will be posted as necessary.

Competition Officials Thumbnails

  • Moderator: Presides over match; reads questions; must have good understanding of rules and be able to clearly pronounce scientific terms and Latin names. Must thoroughly review questions well in advance of bowl day to help verify accuracy of answers.
  • Rules Judge: Ensures all rules are followed; watches for scorekeeper or other procedural errors; ensures quiet is maintained and that no one from the audience signals competitors. Must become intimately familiar with all rules before bowl day. Responsible for officials' team readiness, room set up and breakdown.
  • Science Judge: Follows questions read by moderator to ensure correct statement of questions; controls buzzer system; makes rulings on acceptability of answers and responds to challenges by competitors. Must thoroughly review questions well in advance of bowl day to help verify accuracy of answers. Takes the Team Challenge Questions to graders and returns with results and brief explanation (if needed).
  • Scorekeeper: Maintains a tally of points on overhead; announces score at the end of each half. Must understand scoring system.
  • Timekeeper: Keeps track of two clocks: the game clock  (for 6-minute halves and  TCQ timing); and a stopwatch to time intervals for competitors to start answers. Notifies players at particular time intervals.
  • Room Runners: Monitor competition room door during competition; no one is to enter or exit while competition is in session. Runs questions back and forth to Crab Pot Central. Answers any room needs that may come up (markers, pads, water refills, etc.). Provide communications link between competition rooms and Crab Pot Central administration.
  • Team Challenge Question Grader: Scores team responses to Team Challenge Questions as they come through the door during each round. You will be asked to review the questions a few weeks prior to the event and work with other graders to develop clear grading criteria for use on Bowl day. It is ideal to have folks from different branches of marine science, to cover physical, chemical, geological and biological topics. Graders work in seclusion, behind the scenes.

    Event Staff Thumbnails:
  • Crab Pot Central Staff: These folks perform a wide variety of tasks including: checking-in/registering participants and volunteers; passing out packets and programs; maintaining master scoreboard & team progress flowchart; filling in for officials if needed; smiling for dignitaries; running messages and materials; managing meal service; set-up/breakdown competition rooms; etc. The Head Rules Judge, Head Scorekeeper and at least one BCB Coordinator are headquartered here also.
    General Assistance & Alternates: May fill in for Room Runners, Scorekeepers, Timekeepers, or Crab Pot Central Staffers, as needed.
    Event Prep: Advance preparations are handled by ODU and VIMS institution staff. Tasks include: making name tags, preparing team packets, competition signage and labels, event program layout & printing, webpage updates, back-up officials and more!
    Media Support: Communicators, photographers. Work with BCB Coordinators to issue press releases before and after the Bowl; take photos of Bowl activities, competition matches, winners, and volunteers.

FAST Facts

Virtual Competition
February 11-12, 2022

National Ocean Sciences Bowl Finals
May 14-15, 2022 (Science Expert Briefing May 7)
Location: Virtual