The International Biology Olympiad (IBO) is a leading high school biology student competition. With an aim to empower and support students in the field of life sciences by developing their international network, the committee recently concluded the 31st Olympiad over a virtual ceremony. This year, Raafsan Rahman Raayan, a student of Aga Khan International School and Raad Sharar, from Rajshahi College, won the bronze medals.
The contest tests a student's theoretical knowledge and practical skills relating to biology. Usually, the preliminary selection procedure is highly rigorous and involves testing the theoretical knowledge of students across the nation through large-scale regional and national events. The theory part is highly analytical and problem-solving oriented. It examines the core biology concepts and connections among various fields. They further assess the practical skills during a residential BioCamp at the National Institute of Biotechnology. This is followed by numerous assessments to select a team for the International round. Quite similarly, the International round features two rounds of examinations - theory and practical.
Initially, things proceeded normally but the pandemic cut short preparations for both the national and international events. Later, the parties decided to arrange an alternative event and thus, an online selection procedure was initiated. "Since Raad and I were high achievers last year, we were moved directly to the online BioCamp without intermediate regional and national rounds. Since all examinations were to be online, the approach to practical examination was to be different, the BioCamp mainly focused on skills that required use of computer software," added Raayan. The participants sat for their examinations at the Department of Biomedical Engineering, BUET under on-site supervision and maintaining social distancing restrictions.
"I have participated in IBO for the first time and am more than glad with my achievement. With more hard work, I look forward to another successful session next year," shared Raad. As far as their future plans are concerned, both of them are interested to pursue their higher education in STEM.
This year, 212 students from 53 nations participated in the Olympiad. After a successful virtual edition, the committee looks forward to hosting the event in Portugal next year.