Students participate in 24th annual Blue Crab Bowl

Upper school students— Veronica G. ’21, Kendra H. ’21, Abby S. ’22, Maggie C. ’22 and Logan R. ’23—competed in the 24th annual Blue Crab Bowl in February. The bowl, which was held virtually due to the pandemic, is Virginia’s regional competition of the National Ocean Science Bowl©, an annual competition that tests their knowledge of our oceans.  

Collegiate’s team won in their division and finished second overall after the first day of competition. The top eight teams then advanced into day two of competitions where Collegiate finished fifth out of 14 teams representing 12 schools throughout Virginia.

The two-day competition was hosted by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) in Gloucester and included “preliminary and elimination contests, with top-placing teams facing over 140 questions assessing their marine-science knowledge,” said Bethany Smith, the event organizer at VIMS.

With a team comprised of mostly new members, also including Graham F. '22, Jessa R. '23, and Caroline C. '24, they prepared by meeting twice a week to practice answering buzzer questions and team challenge questions. Since the competition was virtual, they practiced answering questions over Zoom and went into separate rooms to simulate what it would be like during the competition.

Being a highly collaborative competition, this made the event more difficult for students. However, “I feel as though we performed very well and played off of each other's strengths seamlessly,” said Kendra. “I am very proud of our team!”

This competition marked the third for Kendra, who also participated in the school’s inaugural run where they advanced to the national competition in 2019.

“When I first heard about Blue Crab Bowl, I was skeptical of what it would be all about,” said Kendra. “I figured it would be really niche, and something I wouldn’t know much about. After participating in the competition, that is not the case. I think ‘quiz bowl for marine science’ is the perfect way to sum it up.”

While the virtual competition allowed students to participate in an unconventional year, Kendra did miss the perks that came with previous in-person bowls.

“One of the reasons why I loved participating in the event is because they provide many unique experiences for the teams,” she said. “For example, each year a keynote speaker presents on a climate issue related to marine science, and we even toured the labs and research vessels at VIMS and Old Dominion University.” However, “three years later, I couldn’t have imagined all the unique opportunities it has brought me. Between all the tours of various zoos, aquariums, labs and museums, competing in nationals in Washington D.C. my sophomore year, and simply everything I have learned about marine science through this competition, Blue Crab Bowl is easily one of my best memories from my time at Norfolk Collegiate. I encourage anyone interested to try it out, it’s such an amazing experience!”

As for what’s next for the team, well, it’s bright!

“The future is bright for the Blue Crab Bowl team at Norfolk Collegiate,” said Frank Thomson, science department chair and the team’s coach. “With only one returning player, we knew that this would be a rebuilding year and a chance to reach out to some younger players. As it turned out, we were very competitive in this year's competition, scoring higher than all but one other team in the first round. In the playoff rounds, we didn't score as high as some of the more experienced veteran squads, but still finished fifth overall. Our team captain, Kendra, did a great job of leading this year's team while also welcoming seven new players. We even had a developmental team of freshman and sophomores that are ready to slide in next year and continue the tradition that our amazing students have established.”

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