Written by Darnell Isla
Illustration by Ericka Aala
Published 2020 December 19
As the country adapts to the new normal brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Philippine Biology Olympiad (PBO), the Ateneo BOx’s flagship project, showed resilience against struggles through its fourth edition themed “Sibol.”
With the limitations on physical activities due to health protocols, the ADMU Department of Biology prompted the shifting of PBO 2021: Sibol to a fully online competition as eliminations pushed through via Canvas on December 12, 2020.
Being the premier biology competition in the country for secondary school students, PBO selects national delegates to compete against representatives from over 70 other countries in the International Biology Olympiad 2021 slated for July 18-25, 2021 in Lisbon, Portugal.
The competition is divided into three phases where 216 competing students from 61 participating schools nationwide will vie for the top 55 and top 20 spots in the eliminations and semi-finals, respectively, before securing a place in the finals.
The list of top 55 contestants from the elimination round was released on the Facebook page of PBO.
Contestants were required to have a stable internet connection of at least 1.5 mbps, a laptop/device with video-calling capabilities, and an external web camera prior to the event. Additionally, as a measure to ensure academic integrity, volunteer marshals assisted by watching over participants in Zoom breakout rooms. A pre-event orientation was also administered on December 5 for the oath-taking of participants and additional reminders before the competition proper.
While the PBO 2021: Sibol formally kicked off with opening ceremonies at 12:15 PM, the eliminations started as contestants were directed to their respective breakout rooms at 1:00 PM where volunteer marshals conducted room sweeps prior to the exam.
The elimination round was limited to 2 hours and 10 mins and done in two parts: a quiz bee that consisted of twenty items and lab skills that focused on Marine Biotechnology, Plant Biotechnology, and Animal Physiology where the highest possible score will be 100 points.
“PBO creates a community for young biologists to share their enthusiasm for biology and engage in friendly competition that is meant to showcase their knowledge and skills. It was especially important for PBO that this year, in a completely virtual setting, to show the value of resilience and adaptability during this time of COVID-19. In the greater scheme of things, life has a way of bouncing back from disturbances and emerging ready to face a new day. That is the essence of SIBOL,” Ronald Cruz, ADMU professor and country coordinator of the Philippines to the IBO, said.
Over the performances in the IBO for the last three years, Team Philippines has already racked 1 silver medal, 2 bronze medals, and 3 honorable mentions. In the recent IBO Online Challenge 2020, the country managed to clinch a bronze medal finish.
The semi-finals will be staged from January 16 – February 7 while the finals will be held on March 5. Both will include a quiz bee and lab skills portion with a wider coverage on the biological sciences.