30th Annual Bioathlon!
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.
2019 Project Topics
Through these projects, students must demonstrate organizational skills, knowledge of facts and concepts, laboratory skills, and creativity.
Students will dissect a preserved vertebrate animal and identify a list of organs and other anatomical structures. Students will not have access to dissection guides. Their identifications will have to based on their memory and knowledge of comparative anatomy. All tools and personal protective equipment will be provided. Students will be graded on the quality of their dissections and number of correct identifications.
Medical Laboratory Science
Medical laboratory scientists seek to improve and extend life by acting as diagnostic specialist. They serve as key members of the medical team by detecting disease through a variety of analyses of tissues and body fluids. This activity will have students completing a series of case studies. Standard operating procedures will be provided to students to complete common laboratory procedures in hematology, urinalysis, clinical chemistry, and medical bacteriology in order to answer the cases.
During a brief field trip, students will search for some common organisms. This search will require general knowledge of ecology including identification of common plants and animals and familiarity with their obvious external structures. Based on their findings, students will separate their specimens into trophic levels. Students may not use guidebooks, notes or any electronic devices while out in the field. Students should be prepared to go outside in all weather conditions.
There's been a crime and students will have to apply their knowledge of biology to help solve the case! Students will be given standard operating procedures to help examine a variety of evidence, which will include: latent fingerprints, blood, hair, DNA, and other surprises. All tools and personal protective equipment will be provided.
In past years, the following high schools have been represented in the Bioathlon competition:
- A.D. Johnston (Bessemer)
- Dollar Bay
- Forest Park
- Lake Linden
- L.L. Wright (Ironwood)
- Superior Central
- West Iron County
- Westwood (Ishpeming)
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!
The problems will take place concurrently in several departmental laboratories and an on-campus field location. The field ecology project 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.