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Four Silver Medals: A great success for the German National Team at the IBO Challenge 2021!

July 30th, 2021

Lisbon, Portugal - that was supposed to be the fascinating destination for students from 76 countries at this year's International Biology Olympiad in July! But like last year, the organizers had to give in to the pandemic early on, and so the planned face-to-face event became an online event again this year. Even though this meant that an important aspect of the International Olympiad was once again lost - the face-to-face interaction and the opportunity for students from different cultural backgrounds to get to know each other - everyone involved was pleased with the great commitment of the Portuguese organizers, who also launched and successfully carried out an exciting large-scale event as an online challenge with over 300 participating students in different time zones around the world.

Kasimir Reich (Humboldt-Gymnasium Potsdam, Brandenburg), Fynn Kessels (Carl-Zeiss-Gymnasium Jena, Thuringia), Marta Conti (Carl-von-Ossietzky Gymnasium Bonn, North Rhine-Westphalia) and David Sauer (Life-Science-Lab Heidelberg, Baden-Württemberg) once again had to complete the Olympic exams of the IBO Challenge 2021 from their school or home study under direct and online supervision. The thematic arc was broad and was based on the famous circumnavigation of the world by the Portuguese explorers Fernando Magellan and Juan Sebastián Elcano in the 16th century.

Different areas of biology were covered in two exams, one theoretical-practical and one theoretical. The subject spectrum ranged from cell biology, plant and animal anatomy, physiology, genetics and molecular biology, microbiology, ecology and ethology to biotechnology and bioinformatics. The written exams were prepared by the Portuguese organizers, then reviewed and, if needed, revised by an international team of experts with German participation, and finally translated into the local language by the respective team of supervisors. In addition, the original English version of the exams was also available to the students in each case.

A large team of support staff worked in the background for Germany. Patricia Scholz, Göttingen, represented Germany in the international team of task experts, Dr. Arne Jahn, Dresden, and numerous helpers ran the digital training camp for the German national team, and the extended team of supervisors this year consisted of Dr. Burkhard Schroeter from the IPN (country coordinator) as well as Dr. Dennis Kappei, Singapore, Dr. Christian Mühle, Erlangen, Cedric Cappric from the IPN (country coordinator). Burkhard Schroeter from the IPN (Country Coordinator) as well as Dr. Dennis Kappei, Singapore, Dr. Christiane Mühle, Erlangen, Cedric Cappel, Kiel, Dr. Toni Goßmann, Bielefeld, Julia Hansen, Cologne, Alexander Rotsch, Göttingen and Jan Krieghoff, Leipzig.

The German national team had a great success with four silver medals at the end of a challenging week. We hope for an International Biology Olympiad in Armenia next year, not only because of some surprises in the medal places.

A special thanks goes to the whole team of supervisors and especially to the great commitment of the alumni in the Förderverein Biologie-Olympiade.

The annual selection competition for the International Biology Olympiad (IBO), the Biology Olympiad in Germany, is organized by the Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education (IPN), Kiel, on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and in cooperation with the Ministries of Education of the Länder.

For more information, visit

Competition management contact:
PD Dr. Burkhard Schroeter
Olshausenstr. 62
24098 Kiel