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Budding biologists - help needed to get to international competition in Armenia

  • Team brings home the medals - 2 Bronze and 2 Silver

      18 July 2022
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    Brilliant news from the 33rd International Biology Olympiad was held in Yerevan, Armenia The NZ team competed against the top four students from 68 different countries in two extremely challenging theory exams and a range of practical tasks from determining the activity of alcohol dehydrogenase, to assessing plant vulnerability to climate change, bioinformatics, and the biosystematics of Armenian freshwater fishes.

    Sarah Ellis and Jacob Miller won Bronze medals and Janet Guo and Richard Li won Silver. This is a huge achievement for our team and a tribute to their dedicated study for over 18 months and the support of their teachers, whānau, the NZIBO committee and our university partners. It is also a testament to all of you who supported us when government support was not available, donating through Givealittle, purchasing raffle tickets, and attending fundraisers. Without this support the team could not have competed. We can’t thank our supporters, large and small, enough.

    In addition to competing on the world stage, the team has explored Rome, Vatican City, and Yerevan, one of the ancient cities of the world Europe, and learnt Armenian dancing. The chance to meet students from around the globe, share their enthusiasm for Biology, form professional networks in Science, and laugh across language boundaries has been life-changing. The team was led by Dr Angela Sharples (Murupara Area School) and Ms Michelle Isbister (Hauraki Plains Area School) and they are both so proud of this team. Dr Sharples said “They represented New Zealand at the highest level of academic endeavour for secondary school students in the world and rose to the occasion to bring home the medals. It reflects their hard work, perseverance, and sheer biological brilliance”.

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  • Pre-departure training camp

      20 June 2022
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    The team has just completed a fantastic 3 days at the University of Auckland, School of Biological Science. We were focused on learning new lab skills and honing existing skills. Thanks so much to the team; Julie McIntosh, Chris Squires, and Jenn Jury for their support and outstanding teaching. The team covered microbiology, including the Kirby-Bauer method for determining antibiotic resistance, ELISA and pipetting practice, an ATPase laboratory, development and biostatistics.

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  • First step reached - $10,000 donations received

      7 June 2022
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    Thank you to all our donors. It has been so heartening to see so many people who care step up and help us. Whilst we still have lots to raise, your donations have meant that we have been able to ticket and we will be working hard to fundraise enough to cover the full costs so that NZIBO can run the upcoming programme for 2022-23. We have around 400 students who sit the Entrance Exam in August and about 200 of these go on to enrol in our online tutorial programme. This runs until March next year and covers most of a first year university biology programme. It is a wonderful learning opportunity for talented students all around NZ.

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  • TVNZ news article

      5 June 2022

    Kia ora koutou,

    Thank you so much for all of those who saw the news story on the 6pm news on Friday evening and have helped us out. It is really appreciated.

    We have almost reached $10,000 of donations. If you could please share our plight widely with your networks that would be a huge help. Your support so far has already made a difference as I have been able to purchase our airfares. We still have a long way to go to reach the total needed of $56,000 which will cover all costs. This is what we really need to be able to continue with next years programme that begins soon with an Entrance exam for around 400 students in week 5 of Term 3.

    NZIBO is determined that these students will represent us in Armenia and so we have emptied our bank account leaving nothing for the ongoing programme. I was so heartened by your support that we have leapt and committed to going and I hope that we can continue to fundraise the remaining funds needed over the next 4 weeks AND convince the government to support these amazing young biologists.

    I was so disappointed with MBIE's response. They had spent the money on other things without consideration of these students and now they claim they are reviewing the fund to ensure "locally relevant initiatives within New Zealand are being created to make the most of the country’s excellent research and learning opportunities". Yet our programme, and others like it, already fosters links with top scientists and researchers in NZ and has done since 2004. The international travel is merely the end point, the aspirational part of our programme, but fostering excellence in Biology over the entire year's programme is the most important part, the inspirational part that makes a difference to many students around NZ. So disappointing when their review has not even included speaking to NZIBO or Science OlympiaNZ, the stakeholders who are already delivering these kinds of programmes. It is a very interesting way of 'reviewing'.

    I also want all our supporters to know that NZIBO takes real issue with their statement that Covid-19 still makes travel high-risk and that "Logistics are unable to be safely managed for students travelling at this time". Student safety is always our priority and travel is possible now because our borders are open and there is NO Covid-19 travel advisory for Armenia. Covid is rampant in NZ and this travel is as safe as it can be. When would MBIE suggest we begin to offer opportunities for students again, in 2 years, in 5 years or perhaps never?

    NZIBO is committed to fostering excellence in Biology and supporting our young scientists to see Biology as a valuable and valued career pathway, NZ's economic future depends on it and we are getting on and continuing to do this despite Covid-19.

    Thank you all for your support, you make a difference!

    Dr Angela Sharples, MNZM

    Chairperson, NZIBO

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  • $2,000 reached with 25 donations

      26 May 2022
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    Morena whānau. Thank you to everyone who has donated. Your donation does make a difference. We have still not been able to access any government support so please share widely with your networks and personally ask for them to support us. This has put the whole NZIBO programme at significant risk but we are determined these amazing students will get the opportunity to represent New Zealand as our students have in the past as you can see in the photo. Remember every little bit counts as many small donations to the kaupapa add up to a massive help. Mā te wā, Angela Sharples

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