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Selection competition for the International Biology Olympiad: These are the best 12 students in biology

March 1st, 2021

An exciting selection round for the International Biology Olympiad for Germany came to an end on Friday after a busy week.

From more than 1400 participants from all 16 German states, 45 students qualified in two selection rounds for the 3rd selection round of the International Biology Olympiad. For the first time, the selection round could not take place at the Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education (IPN) in Kiel due to the pandemic. Instead, the participants met online for a week to compete with their knowledge and skills in biology.

In order to challenge the participants in their theoretical and practical skills in biology, the supervisors had jointly prepared training sessions and crash courses, evening lectures and written exams. For the exams and crash courses, the students had each been sent a large package to their homes containing the necessary materials for completion. A stable Internet connection was also an important prerequisite for successful participation: for the bioinformatics tasks, for example, the students had to access a specially set-up server in order to analyze phylogenetic trees. Experimental skills in botany, zoology, metabolic physiology and performance in bioinformatics were tested in four practical exams. In preparation, there were special crash courses in biomathematics and bioinformatics to introduce the students to this important field of biology, which is hardly ever included in the school curriculum. The zoology and botany exams were designed to be completed at home without school attendance. Only the metabolic physiology exam required work in the school laboratory in compliance with all necessary safety regulations due to the experiments. Fortunately, access to the school laboratory was possible for all participants under the respective applicable hygiene regulations; only one participant had to complete the exam at home under expert supervision due to quarantine regulations. In addition, a broad spectrum of biology subjects was covered in a demanding 4.5-hour theory exam.

In spite of the restrictions imposed by the pandemic-related physical separation, getting to know each other and leisure activities were not neglected: in the evenings, special video conference rooms were available to the participants for informal exchanges, and in the leisure program, small groups were able to prove their puzzle-solving skills in a digital Escape Room. In addition, the joint dinner by delivery service and video conference was an unusual and exciting experience. Complementing the challenging program were evening lectures, for which renowned speakers such as Prof. Dr. P. Cramer (MPI-BPC) and also former participants of the Biology Olympiad such as Dr. T. Ischebeck (Georg August University Göttingen) and Dr. R. Römhild (IST Austria) could be engaged, who now head their own working groups at universities.

The conclusion and highlight of the work-intensive week was the awards ceremony on the last day. Here, too, the digital format offered unusual advantages: Prof. Dr. D. Kappei from the Cancer Science Institute in Singapore was able to join in for the exciting keynote speech, and this year, for the first time, the video format also allowed guests from near and far and even a biology high school class to join in.

In addition to the certificates and the qualification for the next selection round, the participants also won book vouchers and - supported by the Förderverein BiologieOlympiade and VBio - non-monetary prizes as well as internship participation.

The winners of the 3rd selection round come from nine German states:

 

1st place: David Sauer, Life-Science-Lab, Heidelberg (Heidelberg, BW)

2nd place: Fynn Kessels, Carl-Zeiss-Gymnasium (Jena, TH)

3rd place: Marta Conti, Carl-von-Ossietzky Gymnasium (Bonn, NRW)

4th place: Kasimir Reich, Humboldt-Gymnasium (Potsdam, BB)

5th place: Axel Scholz, Altkönigschule (Kronberg, HE)

6th place: Tom Kasper, Martin-Andersen-Nexö-Gymnasium (Dresden, SA)

7th place: Konrad Frahnert, Weinberg-Gymnasium (Kleinmachnow, BB)

8th place: Martha Genzer, Gymnasium am Tannenberg (Grevesmühlen, MVP)

9th place: Felina Kell, Theodor-Mommsen-Schule (Bad Oldesloe, SH)

10th place: Katja Strohmeier, Gymnasium Oberhaching (Oberhaching, BAY)

11th place: Andrea Schneeberger, Ortenburg High School (Oberviechtach, BAY)

12th place: Jason Berger, Christian-Ernestinum High School (Bayreuth, BAY)

Congratulations to all winners!

These 12 students will then compete in the 4th selection round at the end of May for the four places on the German national team for the International Biology Olympiad, which will be organized in July by the host country Portugal.

The four most successful young participants (born 2004 and later) also qualified for the selection round of the European Science Olympiad (EUSO), which is being planned this year by the host Hungary as an online competition. These are Marta Conti (Bonn), Kasimir Reich (Potsdam), Felina Kell (Bad Oldesloe) and Anna-Yaroslava Bodnar (Berlin). In addition, all participants will receive a starting place at the German Neuroscience Olympiad (DNO).

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 and Cultural Affairs of the Länder.

Further information can be found at www.biologieolympiade.info.

Contact (competition management at the IPN)

PD Dr. Burkhard Schroeter

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