450 talented young students and jury members from sixty-one countries are spending a week in Denmark this July competing on their knowledge and expertise in biology. In addition to providing inspiring scientific challenges and the chance to win medals, the competition gives the youngsters a unique opportunity to get together with other young people with an interest in science.
Aarhus University is normally quiet in mid-summer, but this year it will be buzzing with life in many different languages from 12 to 19 July, when Denmark hosts the International Biology Olympiad 2015 (IBO2015).
IBO supports talent development in Denmark
For Aarhus University, the clear objective of hosting and being involved in the competition is to support talent development in science in Denmark.
“It’s important that we give young people with an interest in science an opportunity to improve their skills and nurture their interests, so they can measure themselves against like-minded youngsters at the highest international level,” says Erik Meineche Schmidt, chair of the Organising Committee for IBO2015 and former dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology, Aarhus University.
Erik Meineche Schmidt is also pleased that the event provides a unique opportunity for showing off Denmark and Aarhus University to a lot of talented young people from all over the world.
“It’ll be fantastic to experience so many talented young people from extremely different cultures, and show them who we are and what we can do. At the social level, it’ll also be a huge experience for the participants – something they’ll take with them for the rest of their lives,” says Erik Meineche Schmidt.
Lots at stake for the competitors from some countries
The tasks the students have to solve are prepared by a commission consisting of researchers at Aarhus University and the Technical University of Denmark. They ensure an academic level that is suitably high to challenge the students and a wide scope in both the theoretical and the practical exercises, some of which are carried out in the laboratories. The tests are designed to challenge the students to demonstrate an enquiring and investigative approach to biological problems. Ingenuity, creativity and endurance are also required to achieve the best results in the IBO.
Taking part is a great experience for the Danish competitors, but for the participants from other countries, doing well in the competition can also be crucial for their further careers, as this can ensure admission to the best university degree programmes. In addition to experiencing academic challenges, all participants make social contacts with young people from all over the world who share their interest in science.
The participating countries take it in turn to hold the annual International Biology Olympiad (IBO), and Denmark has been planning to host the event ever since it took part for the first time in 2005. The participants are young people under twenty years of age with a particular interest in and knowledge of biology, and who are winners of the preceding national competitions in each participating country. Each country is represented by four students.
The Danish participants were selected in the national competition, which began with the registration of 1,600 upper secondary school pupils in autumn 2014 and concluded with the selection of the four most talented competitors in the Danish finale on 25–27 March at Aalborg University.
Aarhus University is host for the International Biology Olympiad 2015, which is a major task – not only as regards getting the competition to run correctly and according to plan, but also in terms of ensuring that the delegations from the sixty-one countries (i.e. the competing students, their assistants and the jury members totalling 450 visitors altogether) enjoy their stay academically, culturally and socially. Approximately 150 Danish students and employees will be involved in the event.
Room for social and cultural experiences as well
During the course of the week the IBO is being held, two full days have been set aside for practical and theoretical exams. On the other days – when the jury members are at work preparing and assessing the tasks – the students will gain insight into Danish history and culture via activities such as excursions to LEGOLAND, Moesgaard Museum and The Old Town, as well as different social events.
The competition concludes with a festive ceremony and presentation of the medals. The most talented competitors will receive recognition in the form of gold, silver and bronze medals. A certificate of merit will be awarded to the ten per cent of participants with the best performance after the medallists. All participants will be awarded a diploma stating that they took part in IBO2015, thereby showing that they have a special talent for working with science.
IBO2015 receives financial support from the Danish Ministry of Education, the VILLUM FOUNDATION, the Carlsberg Memorial Grant, the Novo Nordisk Foundation, the Lundbeck Foundation, the A.P. Møller Support Fund, Knud Højgaard’s Foundation, the Technical University of Denmark and Aarhus University.
Sunday 12 July: Arrival, opening ceremony and welcome reception at the Concert Hall Aarhus. Monday 13 July: Introduction to the practical exams at Aarhus University and excursion to The Old Town, the Greenhouses in the Botanical Garden and the Natural History Museum. Tuesday 14 July: Practical exams at Aarhus University. Wednesday 15 July: Excursion to the Ecolarium and nature projects in Vejle, as well as LEGOLAND. Thursday 16 July: Theoretical exams and cultural night at Aarhus University. Friday 17 July: Visit to Moesgaard Museum and sightseeing in Aarhus, while the jury members cast their vote. Saturday 18 July: Closing ceremony and presentation of the medals at the Concert Hall Aarhus. Farewell party at Centralværkstedet (Central Workshop). Sunday 19 July: Departure. See more at http://ibo2015.org/