Peter Morrison, a postgraduate student at the University of Warwick, is one of the 100+ volunteers helping run the 28th International Biology Olympiad, taking place at the University of Warwick this week.
This morning marked the beginning of the exam stages, with three groups taking turns at each of three practicals throughout the day. After a good night’s sleep, all the teams were keen to get a good early start on the morning.
Each exam was a grueling two-hour test of the students’ skills, following themes in physiology, botany and biochemistry, with topics from larvae dissection to root phenotyping.
By the time the last phase finished at 6.30pm, participants and facilitators alike were thoroughly tired out.
The most consistently heard observation from the support staff was how well students, some as young as 15 years old, seemed to deal with the high-pressure environment.Competition on an international stage is never taken lightly, and for those students for whom the outcome is closely coupled with other national awards, the conditions were understandably quite highly stressed.
Nevertheless, the support that the participants offered to one another was an inspiring example to behold.
The lab facilitators were also among the heroes of the day, working tirelessly to keep the practicals running smoothly. Some will also be involved in the marking of the exercises tomorrow: meanwhile, the jurors will continue to prepare Thursday’s theory exam.
The laughter was infectious at “Zombie science” this evening – who knew that such thorny issues as embryonic stem cell research and the antimicrobial resistance crisis could be handled with such humour!
For those of us with science communications experience, it was an entertaining meta-education on tactical allegory. Seldom has a lecture been so well-received by an audience of such tired students!
Tomorrow is to feature an excursion to the fantastic Warwick Castle, originally built by William the Conqueror. We’ll look forward to keeping you updated!
You can also watch today’s IBO Daily News, capturing the action as it unfolds: