Australian Biology Olympiad
The Australian Biology Olympiad is promoted via the Australian Science Innovations (ASI) website www.asi.edu.au. Teachers are required to register all students who intend to partake in the competition. Teachers and schools are directly informed of the dates of the Australian Biology Olympiad Examination (ABOE) through mail outs, emails, and telemarketing.
The activities of the Australian Science Olympiads is coordinated by the office in Canberra. The office maintains a database of all secondary schools in Australia, contacts schools and coordinates the examination process for the Australian Biology Chemistry and Physics Olympiads. The school year runs from the end of January - December. The website gives information about the Australian Science Olympiad Examinations held in August each year. The office sends information in March each year to the Head of Science (teacher in charge of Science) at all secondary schools in Australia inviting them to enter students for the ABOE.
The activities of the Australian Science Olympiads is coordinated by the Australian Science Innovations in Canberra. At present, there is one round of qualifying examination (ABOE), which students sit in August at their own schools. Past examination papers are available on the website with suggested answers. In 2013 935 students were registered to sit the examination from 155 schools across Australia, although fewer participated. The papers are sent to Canberra and teaching staff from across Australia meet to mark the papers one weekend in September. The top twenty four students are selected to attend the summer camp in January where we have an intense program of practical and theory classes and some small tests during the camp.
At the end of the camp, there is a practical examination, and six weeks after the camp, there is a three hour theory examination. The teaching staff write the theory examination and this is sent to schools and university staff to supervise the paper one Saturday in early March. All the papers are sent directly to the coordinator to mark. The marks from both practical and theory examinations are used with the marks from small tests to give an overall score and the top four students are invited to become team members.
The Australian Biology Olympiad Examination (ABOE) consists of multiple choice questions, short answer questions, data analysis and extended response questions. Questions test reasoning rather than content knowledge. The ABOE selects students for the summer camp and the marks from this are not included in determining the composition of the national team. The staff of the Biology Olympiad develop the test materials for each ABOE, the small tests and practical examinations during the camp and the theory examination after the camp. Students take the last theory examination under supervision by one of the Olympiad staff at a university close to the students.
Some schools and universities run progrqams to help students prepare for the Australian Olympiad Examiantions adn we do not encourage this sort of preparation. Students have 11 days training together in January at the summer camp and the team members have 3 more days together with teaching staff at Easter in April at Monash University. After the Easter camp, students have access to past IBO papers to practice and revise before the IBO.
Some schools do help students prepare for the ABOE and some individuals provide a training program at a cost. We don't encourage this and we are trying to develop a reasoning test rather then a content based examination to select students for the summer camp so that all students are the same opportunity for a place at the summer camp.
At present, we have been using Raven's eight edition and started enroliing to use the online Nature Principles text. We ask students to do some pre-reading for the January summer camp using a moodle for students to access reading material.
All students who participate in the ABOE and the summer camp are awarded certificatea. All the team members are presented with the Australian blazer at a presentation in Parliament House in June by the Minister for Education. There is no fixed award of prizes, medals to students who gain a place at the summer camp or become team members. Some universities allow team members to be given credit for some of the courses at university, or a scholarship which helps pay university fees, but this is not uniform and varies from one university to another, course to course.
Press releases are sent to all media outlets and contact made with the local ppaers of students who have been successful in gaining a place in thenational team. Ruth Carr is the Marketing and Communications Manager firstname.lastname@example.org. The office contacts local newspapers, radio stations etc. Monash University also advertises its support for and sponsorship of the Olympiads through its website.
The Australian Science Olympiad programs are supported by Monash University, and the federal government through the Departments of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR)
The Ministry of Education is a major sponsor of the Australian Science Olympiads.
All students can participate in the national qualifying examination but only students in year 11 and below can be invited to the summer camp in January (the school year ends in December).
Numbers of students sitting the ABOE:
2013: 716 students
2011: 972 students
2010: 767 students (introduction of a small fee for each student)
2009: 1196 students