Tawa College students rise to top of biology ranks
May 23, 2017
Two Tawa College students have recently returned from a prestigious training camp run by the New Zealand Biology Olympiad.
Johniel Bocacao and Trulani van der Heyde (both 16), were two of just 25 secondary school students from around the country selected for the camp held in Hamilton and Auckland during the April school holidays.
Over the two-week period, they spent time at both Waikato and Massey Universities where they learnt practical skills, biostatistics, and reptile evolution. They were also lucky enough to spend a day on Tiritiri Matangi Island observing birds and their behaviour.
“It was really interesting. I enjoyed meeting people that had the same mindset as me and who were also really keen on biology,” Johniel said.
It had been a long process for Johniel and Trulani to get to that stage. Last August they sat a two-hour exam to gain entry to an online tutorial group along with 150 others. Over the following months they learnt biology theory equivalent to first-year university standards, and sat weekly online tests to prove they were keeping up.
“It was much more difficult than NCEA,” Johniel said.
In March, they were tested once again with the best 25 selected for the camp held in April.
The camp was the final step before a three-person team was selected to compete at the International Biology Olympiad in the United Kingdom in July. Unfortunately for Johniel and Trulani, neither was selected , but as they are year-12 students, they have the opportunity to try again next year.
Johniel said he had always had an interest in biology. “I’m really fascinated by how things work and how things come together to make life.”
Trulani had not always felt the same. She said she “wasn’t too interested” in biology, but has found she has gained more of an interest the more she has learned.
Both students are planning on attending university, with Johniel interested in combining computer science with biology, and Trulani hoping to go into medicine.
Outside the classroom, Johniel and Trulani are members of the Tawa College choir and debating teams.