The main feature of questions in the Bioscience Olympiad is that they do not require an exact or single answer, which can be found in textbooks such as “Diplodocus was the biggest dinosaur ever.” or “This reaction requires 3 molecules of glucose”. Quite the opposite: several ideas can be suggested for an explanation of biological processes or interpretation of experimental data and each idea is feasible and may be correct.
For example the answer to the question “Why is the plant called Virgultum found only near mushrooms?” implies answers such as:
- This plant requires chemicals produced by the mushrooms
- Mushrooms usually grow in damp areas where conditions are optimal for germination of Virgultum seeds
- Seeds of that plant are distributed by insects that live in mushrooms
This list can be continued further. Therefore our questions do not require simple playback of already known facts, but the ability to think, find various rational explanations and do not limit the answers to a single “right” one. We write our questions to show relationships; functioning of organs and biological systems; search for negative or positive effects; classification and grading, as well as plan of experimental design and interpretation of the subsequent results. It is possible that there is no “correct” answer for a question or even that the answer is not yet known.
The final marking of answers is organised in a way that only one person (group) is responsible for marking a question. Usually we would come up with three or four model answers, while additional ones would come up from the teams’ responses. Do not limit yourself to the most obvious answers, go beyond that. There are no “minus points” for incorrect or non-relevant ideas.
It would be good to corroborate your hypothesis/idea with examples from nature, although it requires some basic biological knowledge provided in school. Any additional information would be included within the question (may be not in explicit way) or a reference will be given to a particular source.