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For more information about Science Day at PSU, contact the PSU Biology Club

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Biology Bowl Rules for Science Day


Oral Competition

Schools are encouraged to return their information promptly to participate in the Oral Competition. A confirmation letter will inform you of the status of your Oral Competition team. If you register for this competition, then please be aware that the tiebreaker round is scheduled to begin at 2:00 pm.  In past years, teams departing early have been thrown off the win/loss bracketing, which has resulted in teams meeting more than once before the final round, in conflict with event rules. If you are unable to commit to staying past 2:00 p.m., then PLEASE do not register for this event. 

Each school may enter only one team in the Oral Competition. Each team may have 1-5 members; however, only four members of the team are allowed to compete in any one round. The alternate member may be substituted in for other rounds.  Each team must select one captain who will sit nearest the reader during the competitions and who will be present at ALL rounds. A team may continue to compete throughout the day, even if not all four members are present for each round.

Each team must carry to each round of competition a name card identifying their school. They will not be asked to carry around numbers for each member of the team; those will be placed on the tables beforehand. The label should be placed in front of each team member to assist the judge in identifying contestants when they signal to answer. The name cards will be provided in the information packet.

The Biology Department of Pittsburg State University will provide four officials for each round of competition:

Judge – The judge will be a faculty member and will have the final say on all matters relating to the progress of each round.  The judge will identify the team name and number of the contestant who signals first for answering each toss-up question, correct pronunciation of the reader, and accept or reject answers which are not immediately clear to the reader.

Reader – The reader will be an upper classman majoring in Biology and will read all questions unless deferred to or requested by the judge.  The reader will start and end each round, and will usually determine the correctness of all answers.  The reader will also give the correct answers to all questions answered incorrectly.

Timer – The timer will time the rounds (20 minutes each), the interval between question and signal, between signal and answer, and for bonus questions, between question and answer.

Scorekeeper – The scorekeeper will keep a running score during each round in full view of all participants and the audience.

The competition will consist of toss-up questions and bonus questions:

Toss-Up Questions – Toss-up questions (10 points each) are all multiple-choice questions, and may be answered by any member of either team. Only the person who signaled is allowed to answer the question.  However, members can confer before signaling. The team with a member signaling first has the first opportunity to answer correctly. If they are unable to answer to the satisfaction of the judge, the other team will be given an opportunity to answer. Any team may signal to answer before the question is completely read, but their answer must match one of the four choices.  (The reader and judge may exercise their own discretion in such instances). An answer must consist of the word(s) in the possible answers given and not merely the letter of the answer. If a team member signals to answer before a question is completely read and answers incorrectly, the reader will re-read the entire question, with answers, for the other team. Once a question has been read completely, it will not be re-read. 

The teams will have 10 seconds to signal after the last word of the last answer choice is read or re-read. The signaling team member must always begin his/her answer within 5 seconds of being recognized by the judge.  Failure to begin an answer within the allotted time will be considered an incorrect answer.

Bonus Questions – If a team member answers a toss-up question correctly, a bonus question (10 points) will be read for that team. (The other team cannot answer the bonus question). After the last word of the last answer of the bonus question is read, the team will have 20 seconds in which to confer, and the team captain may answer any time within that 20 seconds. If no answer is forthcoming, the timer will say “TIME” after the 20 seconds, and the team captain must provide an answer immediately without further consultation. On all bonus questions, answers will be accepted only from the team captain.

If the reader has begun reading a question (toss-up or bonus) when the timer announces the end of the round, then only that question will be finished. If it is a toss-up question, and the team that signals first answers incorrectly, then the other team will be given the chance to answer. If the team that signals first answers correctly, then no bonus question will be read. If the round ended with a correct, tying answer to a toss-up question, then the next bonus question will be read to break the tie. If the question read does not break the tie, then the round will proceed under the usual rules until one team scores and wins.

Additional rules to be observed during Oral Competition:

Audience members shall not carry or use materials for note-taking or tape recording in the oral competition rooms. They should remain quiet during the competition and may be ejected from the room for debating decisions made by the judge, reader, or timer; however, if the scorekeeper makes an error, then audience members or individuals on the team may cordially call it to the attention of the judge. Teams are expected to be courteous of their opponents and show good sportsmanship. Inappropriate behavior will be determined by the judge and may result in the team being disqualified.

A team must lose two rounds in order to be eliminated from the oral competition. Teams losing their first round will move to the consolation bracket where play will continue until the team loses a second round. The final round is a match between the top team of the winners bracket (no losses) and the top team of the consolation bracket (only one loss). If the top team of the winners’ bracket beats the top team of the consolation bracket, then the competition is over. If the top team of the consolation bracket beats the top team of the winners’ bracket, then both teams will have only one loss and a second, full-length round will be played. At the end of that round, one team will have two losses and the other team will be declared the winner of the overall competition.

Each round starts promptly on the half-hours, as indicated in the schedule of events. If a team does not show up within 5 minutes of the official start time, the judge will declare the team in attendance as winner, by default.  A single team member may constitute a team, but once a round begins, late arriving members cannot participate in that round.

Intervals between rounds may be 10 minutes or less (except for the lunch break), and teams should proceed directly from one round to the next.  Room assignments for the Oral Competition will be posted on the day of the competition.  Signs on the second and third floor of Heckert-Wells Hall will clearly indicate all room locations. Once a round is started, the door will be closed and no one will be allowed to enter a room where a round is taking place.

Written Competitions

Entries – A school may enter as many students in each test category as time permits for competition. Any student may enter any number of written test competitions, as scheduling of exams permits (see below). No student entered in the oral competition may enter any written test competition.

Tests – Four written tests and two practical exams will be offered, but some will run concurrently.  The schedule of tests is as follows:

Practical Exams

Wildlife Identification (Heckert-Wells Rm 221)

9:30-10:00 & 10:00-10:30 & 10:30-11:00 am

(Limited to 16 students per session)

Sounds of Nature (Heckert-Wells Rm 221)

11:00-11:30 am (Limited to 32 students)

Written Exams

You must be registered to take a written exam or exams. Students who are not registered for the specific exams will not be allowed to take the those exams. The General Biology, Genetics, Ecology, and Anatomy and Physiology tests will consist of 30 four-part multiple choice questions with an additional three bonus questions. The tests will be administered from 9:30am to 11:00am in Yates Hall Rm 102. Students may take as many exams as they signed up to take during that allotted time. Students may show up at any point in time during the allotted time to take their written exams; however, they are encouraged to show up on time. The tests will be scored for the number of correct answers; unanswered questions will be considered incorrect. In the case of a tie, the three bonus questions at the end of the test will be graded. The three students with the most correct answers will be awarded medals. Make sure the bonus questions are answered BEFORE the exams are turned in.

Monitors will oversee and time the written exams. Contestants must stop work immediately when the end of the allotted time is announced or they will be disqualified by the monitors, whose decisions are final. If a student finishes the test(s) before the allotted time, they may quietly leave the room. Students are not allowed to take any form of the test out of the room, nor can tests be retrieved after the competition. Participants are encouraged to bring a pencil to the test as there will only be a limited number to pass out at the test. Calculators are not necessary and will not be permitted. Personal belongings must be left at the front of the testing room. The monitors will not be responsible for watching your things.  Make sure each student puts his or her name, the name of his or her school, and the test being taken on the answer sheet. This is to make sure that the test results can be recorded properly and awards will be handed out correctly.

Wildlife Identification– Test your wildlife identification skills! There will be two sessions, lasting 30 minutes each. The first 16 participants will receive a crimson ticket and will take their practical exam from 9:30am to 10:00am. The next 16 participants will receive a gold ticket and will take their practical exam from 10:00am to 10:30am. The last 16 participants will receive a white ticket and will take their practical exam from 10:30 to 11:00am. Participants will view a variety of identifiable materials such as tracks, signs of mammals and birds, pelts, and skulls. Students must make a species identification by writing their answer on the answer sheet provided in the session. Correct responses may be common names but must be specific enough to indicate individual species.  The winner of the event will be the participant who has the highest number of accurate responses.

Sounds of Nature – Expand your biological knowledge by competing in a quiz on natural sounds made by birds, frogs, mammals, reptiles, and insects. Up to 32 participants will be allowed to sign up for the single session of Sounds of Nature, beginning at 11:00am; all participants for the Sounds of Nature will receive a neon green ticket. Participants will hear representative samples of tape-recorded animal sounds. Students must make a species identification by writing their answer on the answer sheet provided in the session. Correct responses may be common names but must be specific enough to indicate individual species. The winner of the event will be the participant who has the highest number of accurate responses.

Test graders will begin grading exams immediately after they are completed and the top eight scores will be sent to each school. The top eight scores will receive certificates acknowledging their accomplishments, and the top three scores will receive medals in addition to their certificates.  Awards will be mailed to the respective schools. Sponsors should leave a self-addressed, stamped envelope containing a list of those students who participated with a PSU Biology Club member (blue shirts). The PSU Biology Department will return your results.

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Additional Activities

Cadaver Tours – Dr. Steven Ford and an assistant will conduct human cadaver laboratory demonstrations by reservation only. These tours will be performed in two rooms, in 30-minute intervals, and a maximum of 20 people per demonstration will be allowed. To reserve a cadaver demonstration, please indicate your preference on the Biology Bowl Registration form along with the number of people who will be attending the tour. These will fill on a first-come, first-serve basis. Groups must be accompanied by their sponsors and will meet 10 minutes prior to their reserved time in the 2nd floor lobby of Heckert-Wells Hall.