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Nederlandse Biologie Olympiade

1990   (in Dutch)

All secondary schools receive a mailing with promotional posters and brochures for all science olympiads at the start of the academic year. An email to all our previously participating schools invites teachers to sign up for that year's first round. The olympiad advertises in several biology related educational magazines, reaching out to teachers, but also university staff.

The results of the olympiad are published primarily on the organisation's website, on a Facebook page and through a Twitter account. Furthermore, the host university (Wageningen University) publishes a news item. A general press release is sent out, but newspapers only rarely act on this.

The Dutch Biology Olympiad is one of the science olympiads established at the National Institute for Curriculum Development (SLO). SLO hosts the olympiad secretariat and employs drs. A. Taminiau, who manages daily affairs. The board of a separate Biology Olympiad foundation is responsible for all olympiad affairs, including public relations, finances and competition events. The board maintains close contact with its volunteers and the host for the final round, Wageningen University.

An advisory board with experts from different fields advises the board on policy and strategy. Since 2012, the lively community of former participants are organized in an alumni foundation, "Rubisco". 

The Dutch Biology Olympiad consists of three rounds. A general timeline of the olympiad is as follows (2015 year):

  1. Teachers can sign up for the competition, until the beginning of January. Students can only participate through their teacher.
  2. The teachers receive a theoretical exam at the end of January / beginning of February. The content of the exam matches the national biology curriculum.
  3. Students take the exam, the teacher marks it and sends in results. The final ranking is produced roughly a month after the exam was distributed.
  4. The best 100 students are invited to participate in a special training day in March, organized in collaboration with an external party (varies every year). A second theoretical exam follows afterwards.
  5. The best 20 students are invited for a week-long final training at Wageningen University in the beginning of June, where a mix of theoretical and practical tests determines which four students will represent The Netherlands at the IBO

It should be emphasized that the olympiad finds wonderful support from a large network of volunteers from different backgrounds (teachers, scientists, many former participants, and others) who are all vital for the successful preparation and execution of all olympiad matters (from preparing food during the final round, to the preparation of study material). 

The first round (January/February) is an exam with only pre-coded questions: multiple choice, judging statements, filling out a number or word. Pre-coded questions enable quick marking by the teachers. Students take the exam at school. The preparation is a task of the national assessment institute (Cito) and a small group of teachers. Other exams are prepared by olympiad volunteers (mostly former participants) and scientific staff of the host of the final round.

The second test (end April) is also pre-coded. The exam is prepared in a collaborative effort between former participants and employees of the host of the second round.

The tests in the final round (June) are of mixed nature. Students get lectures, perform practical tasks and make exams which are partly pre-coded, partly essay, theoretical, as well as practical. The exams are primarily set by university scientific staff members.

During the final round, lasting 8 days, students get lectures and practical training sessions about topics relevant for the IBO. Fieldwork is included. Host is a university (Wageningen University).

The IBO team usually receives two days of additional training on specific, IBO-related topics. Students are given the opportunity to practice their skills with previous IBO exams.

For the first round: no additional material. The first round covers the secondary school biology curriculum.

For the second round: a reader on a specific topic.

For the final round: Campbell Biology (9th ed.), and some specialized booklets with collected information and lecture notes about Plant Families, Statistics, Plant Anatomy and Morphology, Fieldwork, and Genetics.

The top-10% of all participants of the first round receive a certificate of participation. Student and schools appreciate this.

Participants in the final round receive some simple prizes, books etc., based on specific achievements throughout the week. The runner-up for the IBO (5th place) receives a special sponsored prize, e.g. a microscope. The best student who is not yet in the final year of high school receives a personal copy of Campbell Biology, as an encouragement prize. The top student receives a scholarship of €2000, provided by 10voorBiologie, a digital biology learning method. The winner also receives an artistic metal representation of the olympiad logo.

Special attention is also given to the school of the winning student. The teacher of the winning student receives a large version of the logo trophy, which travels from one school to the next each year.

All Dutch teams taking part in an International Olympiad are honored in an official meeting at the MoEd by the Minister of Education at the end of June.

Press releases are prepared after each final round of the NBO and after return from the IBO. Contacts with journalists sometimes results in articles in science magazines, newspapers and educational magazines. Unfortunately, attention for NBO in daily newspapers is very limited.

Main sponsor is the MoEd. They provide for the flight fares to the IBO, the salary for the SLO-employee (25 days on a yearly basis), the salary for the Cito assessment expert (9 days on a yearly basis) and board and lodging for the top-20 students during the final round.

Other sponsors (in cash or in kind): Wageningen University, National Institute for Curriculum Development, National Institute for Biology, Rijk Zwaan, National Teachers Association for Science Education, and several publishers.

On average the MoEd pays about €15,000 for the preparation and travel costs of the national team participating in the IBO. Furthermore the production and distribution of posters and leaflets send to all schools is financed by the MoEd. The top-4 (the IBO team) is honored in an official meeting at the Ministry of Education.

There is a set of regulations indicating how the NBO is organized and what is expected of schools, teachers and students. All schools may participate. We follow the IBO rules.
The NBO-foundation has a statute (articles) focusing upon the promotion of the NBO.


The Netherlands was observer in IBO 1990 and started IBO-participation in 1991. We were IBO host in 1993.


Number of schools and students participating in NBO.

Year Schools Students Students % of all schools
 per school  participating
1991 75 294 3,9 9
1992 112 548 4,9 14
1993 127 620 4,9 17
1994 135 892 6,6 19
1995 170 1108 6,5 26
1996 180 1339 7,4 30
1997 180 1470 8,2 33
1998 183 1458 8 37
1999 176 1382 7,9 35
2000 158 1292 8,2 32
2001 135 1041 7,7 27
2002 159 1573 9,9 32
2003 150 2294 15,3 30
2004 207 4097 19,8 41
2005 223 4822 21,6 45
2006 234 5630 24,1 47
2007 216 5562 25,8 48
2008 217 5723 26,4 48
2009 250 7556 30,2 55
2010 261 8317 31,8 57
2011 261 8712 33,4 57
2012 264 9396 35,6 58
2013 262 9307 35,5 57
2014 275 10022 36,4 60
2015 282 10140 36 62
2016 306 11110 36,3 67
2017 299 11203 37,5 65
2018 288 9477 32,9 63
2019 284 9584 33,7 62
from August to July.
minimum 2, maximum 4.

dr. Roel Baars

Dr. R. Baars c/o SLO, National Institute for Curriculum Development PO Box 2041 NL-7500 CA Enschede The Netherlands
SLO, National Institute for Curriculum Development PO Box 2041 NL-7500 CA Enschede The Netherlands confirmed by: Ministry of Education, pb 16375, 2500 BJ, Den Haag

Images and files:

These posters (A2 format) and brochures (8 pages, A5 format) are sent to all schools in the beginning of the school year.



Image for the logo PNG image — 35 KB

File for the poster PDF document — 1278 KB

File for the leaflet PDF document — 703 KB
by Ange Taminiau last modified Apr 24, 2019 09:02 AM