MTU Bioathlon tests high schoolers’ biology knowledge

Sixteen high schools each sent a team of four students to take part in the 25th annual Bioathlon at Michigan Tech earlier today. The students rotated between four different competitions throughout the day. Event organizer Jeff Lewin says the teams do a lot of preparations to get ready for these competitions.

“They all have different difficulty levels depending on the students preparation. We send out hints ahead of time and if you didn’t use those hints to study ahead of time, that competition could be pretty difficult,” Lewin said.

A medical lab setting, where students examined pretend urine and blood samples to test for things like pH levels and parasites, was one of the events. But the event that got the best reactions was the dissection and this year, turtles went under the blade.

Hancock Sophomore Ruth Venegas says she has a love/hate relationship with this competition. “I like learning and seeing stuff that I’ve never really looked at. And then the thing that creeps me out is cutting into it. That’s not my thing,” she said.

Some students, though, love the idea of cutting into something and learning about what’s inside. “My dad is a microbiology teacher at Gogebic Community College in Ironwood, so I’ve been dissecting things my whole life so I’m pretty desensitized to it,” A.D. Johnson High School sophomore Madeline Gabka said.

This competition serves many purposes, but one important goal is to empower young female students to go into biological studies.

“When they go into the MLS activity and they see young women in there running that activity, I want the women in high schools to say, ‘I can do that’,” Lewin said.

At the end of the day, Hancock High School took home first place. L.L. Wright High School in Ironwood finished in second, with West Iron County High School placing third.