Science in society:

Biology Challenge and British Biology Olympiad

Visit the British Biology Olympiad website

The Biology Challenge and British Biology Olympiad (BBO) are annual competitions for secondary and post-16 students. BBSRC supports the Biology Challenge and the BBO team entry in the International Biology Olympiad.

The Biology Challenge

This is an online competition for secondary pupils that aims:

For more information see the external link to the Biology Challenge website.

British Biology Olympiad (BBO)

The BBO tries to challenge and stimulate gifted students with an interest in biology to expand and extend their talents. In offering a wider syllabus than A-level, it allows gifted students to demonstrate their knowledge and to be suitably rewarded and publicly recognised by the award of medals, certificates and other prizes. It is hoped that competing in the Olympiad will encourage students already interested in this valuable, wide-ranging and rewarding subject to continue their study beyond A-level.

In addition to encouraging and rewarding pupils in their studies the BBO provides a means of selecting a team to represent the UK at the International Biology Olympiad. The IBO seeks to challenge by both theory and practical tests some of the top pre-university biology students in the world, with 60 countries taking part.

Case study

In 2011 the four students who represented the UK at the International Biology Olympiad in Taipei, Taiwan, returned having each won a medal.

The winners from the 2010 British Biology Olympiad. Copyright: Society of Biology
(Left to right) Dr Mark Downs CEO Society of Biology, Patrick Perryman-Owens, Vasanth Sritharan, Holly Rees, Andre Zylstra and Dr Tristan Bunn, BBSRC Inspiring Young Scientists Coordinator. © Society of Biology

Patrick from Westminster School in London and Holly from Hills Road Sixth Form College in Cambridge both brought home silver medals and Vasanth from Queen Elizabeth's School in London and André from Charterhouse in Surrey took bronze.

This is the fourteenth consecutive year in which all the UK team members have been awarded medals. Each year, 40% of the competitors return home without medals.

Dr Celia Caulcott, BBSRC Director of Innovation and Skills, said "Our young biologists have done us proud once more. The students did fantastically and all have bright futures ahead of them. Biologists have an important role to play in the UK economy and society in the coming century so it is important that we invest in and support these talented young people.