National Biology Talent Contest
National Biology Talent Contest (NBTC) is part of the National Science Talent Contest (NSTC). Applications are invited through widely published newspapers in addition to the announcement on the official web site of National Science Talent Contest (www.nstc.edu.pk) in October/November each year. Introductory packages are sent to schools nationwide and school authorities are asked to nominate their best students for the competition. NSTC Alumni Association Members hold seminars and presentations to promote it throughout the country. STEM Careers Programme (SCP) Office established in the Higher Education Commission, Islamabad, Pakistan coordinates all the NBTC activities.
NBTC is part of National Science Talent Contest (NSTC) organized under the umbrella of STEM Careers Programme, a joint venture of Higher Education Commission Pakistan and Pakistan Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Islamabad. National Institute for Biotechnology & Genetic Engineering (NIBGE), Faisalabad is the host institute and the main organizer for Biology and is responsible to groom and train students for participation in the IBO.
There are five rounds of selection. First round: Screening test conducted by STEM Careers Programme in Jan/Feb each year. In the second round, 1st Training camp is organized at the National Institute for Biotechnology & Genetic Engineering (NIBGE) in Aug/Sept each year. Third round comprises of 2nd Training camp organized at NIBGE in Dec/Jan each year. The 4th round is held at NIBGE in March/April each year for final selection of 4 students based on theoretical tests. The 5th and final round is a two-week camp organized at NIBGE in June each year and covers the practical tasks.
The tests are produced by the National Institute for Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering (NIBGE). The type of tests produced for different rounds are as per following details:
Round 1: Multiple choice (70%), descriptive (essay) 30%
Round 2: Multiple choice, fill in the blanks, true/false
Round 3: Multiple choice
Round 4: Multiple choice
Round 5: Practical
The screening test (Round 1) is conducted by STEM Careers Program in 8-9 different cities of Pakistan while the remaining rounds are organized and held at NIBGE, Faisalabad.
Fifty students selected during the 1st round are provided with selected portions of Campbell Biology and advised to study at home during the spare time while at the school, the students prepare themselves by seeking help from their school teachers. During the 2nd and 3rd round, students take lectures on selected topics and based on their performance in tests, 10-12 students are selected for the 4th round. During the fourth round, tests are conducted covering the whole IBO syllabus. The students are also provided with past IBO tests for practice. Based on the performance in the 4th round, four students are selected who participate in a two-week training camp organized just before departure of the students to the Olympiad.
Students are provided with Campbell Biology to prepare themselves for the IBO. In addition to this students also take help from High School text books. Specialized lectures are delivered on topics defined in IBO syllabus. Students are advised to look at the past IBO papers to have an idea about the type of questions which are usually asked in the theoretical as well as practical tasks.
Certificate of participation to the students short-listed in the Screening Test and training camps are provided to each student. The team participating in the IBO receives awards as per their performance in the Olympiad. Cash Prizes of Rs. 20,000/- to each winner of the National Biology Talent Contest (NBTC) if he/she does not win any prize in the Olympiad. An award of Rs. 120,000, 80,000 and 60,000 is awarded to each student winning a gold, silver or bronze medal in the IBO, respectively.
Both print and electronic media is involved to inform public about the achievement of the students at the IBO. The names of the winners along with their respective institutions are highlighted in the National newspapers. Higher Education Commission publish news of the winners in their journal "News and Views". In addition to this the result are displayed at the STEM Careers Programme web site (http://www.nstc.edu.pk)
STEM Careers Programme is a joint venture of Higher Education Commission and Pakistan Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences supports the entire activity at both organizational as well as financial levels. Funds are provided to meet the costs for arrangements of the training camps; boarding and lodging of the students and provision of transport facilities/study tours etc. In addition to this, the Government also bears all expenditures for international travel, participation fees etc. for the students and the faculty as well as cash prizes to the students who participate in the IBO.
The Ministry of Education through the Higher Education Commission and Pakistan Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences supports the entire activity at both organizational as well as financial levels. STEM Careers Programme (a joint venture of Higher Education Commission and Pakistan Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences) office is looking after all the activities. STEM Careers Programme office transmits information to the schools, send posters, invite and scrutinize applications, organize 1st round of selection i.e. establish test centers, appoint invigilation staff, print test materials and compile results. Thereafter, the list of selected students is sent to the host institute for training and selection of students for subsequent camps.
For participation in the National Biology Talent Contest (NBTC), following eligibility criteria is used:
i) Age not more than 18 years
ii) Studying in F.Sc. (Part-1)/A level (Part-1)
iii) Should have secured an aggregate of 70% or more marks in core subjects i.e Physics, Chemistry, Biology & Mathematics of Matriculation/O level
iv) Exceptionally talented younger students studying in lower classes are also allowed to apply.
Number of schools is increasing each year. STEM Careers Programme organizes Nationwide Screening Test in four subjects and the largest participation is in Biology, of which about 70 % are girls. The information is given at STEM Careers Programme website, advertised in Newspapers as well as the information is sent to the schools & colleges throughout the country through post. Most of the well organized schools participate in screening test. Students from both urban and rural area are now participating but despite of wide circulation, the percentage of schools participating in the national contest are very limited. Representation from all over Pakistan is seen in the screening test.