Information for Coaches and Teams

Dear Virginia Educators:

Each year, the invitation for Blue Crab Bowl opens in September. Visit again for information on upcoming dates and registration deadlines. Pre-registrations (Statements of Intent) for participation in Blue Crab Bowl will be accepted per the dates posted in the Fact Facts box.

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 aspects of 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. The 1st and 2nd Place teams from the prior year are granted a slot (if they register by the deadline), other 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.

The next Blue Crab Bowl dates and location will be posted in the FAST FACTS box on the right. 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.

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 Coordinators
Bethany Smith (VIMS) & Bill Dunn (ODU)

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!

Blue Crab Bowl 2022 Timeline

August 23, 2021: invitation opens for Pre-Registration (Statement of Intent).

November 2, 2021: last day to submit Pre-registration form. Participants will be selected by lottery.

November 5, 2021: Teams selected to compete are notified; waitlisted teams are notified.

December 14, 2021: Selected teams' complete registration forms.

February 2022:

Blue Crab Bowl
Virtual Competition
February 11-12, 2022

Inclusive event times:
Friday TBD
Saturday TBD

Spring 2022:

25th Annual National Ocean Sciences Bowl
Championship Competition Finals
Dates TBD
Location: Virtual


There will be no team registration fee this year.

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 David Christopher at dmchrist@udel.edu or 302-645-4193.

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.

Team Participation Expectations
Blue Crab Bowl expectations for team participation are patterned after those expressed in the national NOSB Competition Rules.  We expect BCB teams to fully participate in Blue Crab Bowl programming, including: 
  • Friday field experiences — If participation on Friday represents a hardship or violates school policy, Coaches must contact the Regional Coordinators in advance to provide justification for missing these Bowl activities. Teams that fail to fully participate may be dropped from competition.
  • Saturday Awards Ceremony — As an expression of good sportsmanship, all teams are expected to stay though the Awards Ceremony. To receive participation awards, Teams and Coaches must be present. Teams that fail to inform the Coordinators in advance of their departure forfeit their awards.

Who else can attend?
Due to the virtual nature of the competition, only team members and coaches will be allowed in virtual competition rooms. Click here for a list of the 2022 competing teams.

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. Use the more powerful search function, the "Background Information" section and filter to locate resources 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

Virtual Competition
February 11-12, 2022

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