University's Bioathlon


May 4, 2016

Hands-on, Problem Solving Competition

In an age of limited resources, high school students need to be aware that the answers to many of society's problems will require biological or technological solutions. To stimulate an interest in biology careers, the Department of Biological Sciences at Michigan Technological University sponsors a single-day, hands-on, problem solving competition known as the Bioathlon.

High schools are invited to enter a team of four students to compete in this fun-filled day of biological sciences competition. Each school may enter only one team. Each team will work on the same set of four problems relating to biology, although the sequence will vary.

Teams must be composed of four students who have not had formal course work beyond traditional sophomore-level general biology; participants do not need to be sophomores. In the spirit of competition, we discourage sending members who have previously attended.

Learn more about past Bioathlon events, its participants, activities, final results, and download an entry form.

A responsible adult chaperone, usually the biology teacher, must accompany the team. We plan activities for the teachers to enjoy while their students are competing. Lunch and snacks will be provided for all participants.

Potential Project Topics

Sample project topics include:

  • the dissection of a preserved animal with organ identification;
  • designing and/or carrying out two experiments with provided materials; and
  • a field identification problem.

Through these exercises, students must demonstrate organizational skills, knowledge of facts and concepts, laboratory skills, and creativity. Learn more about potential project topics by downloading our project hints.

Recent Participants

In past years, the following high schools have been represented in the Bioathlon competition:

  • A.D. Johnston
  • Baraga
  • Calumet
  • Chassell
  • Dollar Bay
  • Forest Park
  • Hancock
  • Houghton
  • Jeffers
  • Lake Linden
  • L’Anse
  • L.L.Wright (Ironwood)
  • Negaunee
  • Superior Central
  • Wakefield
  • Watersmeet
  • West Iron County (Iron River)
  • Westwood (Ishpeming)

Competition Awards

An awards ceremony takes place at the end of the Bioathlon competition. Each participant receives a certificate of participation and a Bioathlon t-shirt. Students on the winning teams each receive:

  • First place team: $100 cash award for each student
  • Second place team: $50 cash award for each student
  • Third place team: $25 cash award for each student

All three winning teams will be added to our honorary plaque displayed in the Dow Environmental Sciences and Engineering building. We anticipate that this will be a positive and reinforcing experience for your students!

Competition Guidelines

The problems will take place concurrently in several departmental laboratories and an on-campus field location. The field identification will be outside and will be held regardless of weather conditions. Please make sure your students are prepared to go outdoors for up to an hour at any point during the day.

We will provide non-latex gloves, but students will come in contact with preserved organisms containing trace amounts of formalin and phenol. Also, preserved organisms’ veins and arteries may be injected with latex. Please check with your students about possible allergies.

Teams must be composed of four students who have not had formal course work beyond traditional sophomore-level general biology. In the spirit of competition, we discourage sending members who attended previously.

Teachers, please review the full bioathlon guidelines with your students—taking particular note of cell phone rules. Failure to follow these directions, and any additional direction from the lab assistant, may result in deduction of points or disqualifications.