I'll be off to Taipei in 3 weeks' time (a little less, actually - eeek!) to attend the 22nd International Biology Olympiad. I'm going as an observer with the New Zealand IBO team, in order to get a first-hand look at how the competition is run, because -
- in 2014 we'll be hosting the 25th IBO competitions, right here at the University of Waikato! This is a brilliant opportunity to showcase the University, Hamilton City, the wider Waikato region & indeed New Zealand to the global education sector. Teams from around 60 countries will be here, and it's not just the students - they're accompanied by adult team leaders, academics, in many cases there's a media presence from the home country as well.
UoW Vice-Chancellor Prof Roy Crawford & NZIBO Chair Dr Angela Sharples sign the hosting agreement, while yours truly looks on.
New Zealand's sent a team to the IBO since 2005, and the teams have brought home medals every year - apparently we're the only country where students have won medals in their first year of being part of the competition. Winning a place in the team is fairly competitive and there's a lot of hard work involved, but anyone who comes through the training camp will be extremely well-prepared for tertiary studies in biology - they'll have worked their way through the whole of Campbell Biology, which is the first-year text for just about every NZ university :-) (Teachers - this year's entrance exam is on Wednesday 17th August, and it would be great if you could encourage your talented year 12 biology students to consider entering it.)
Having the event in New Zealand will be very special, although it may also add to the pressure to do well! Not least because, as well as being the 25th year of IBO, 2014 also marks the 50th anniversary of the University of Waikato and 150 years since Hamilton City was founded. We'll be working with organisations in Hamilton and beyond to make this an event to remember. (And if anyone wants to put their hand up to help out, I'd love to hear from you!)