This summer, Vernier was honored to be asked by the Center for Excellence in Education (CEE) to provide technology for the 2015 USA Biology Olympiad (USABO) finals, the premier biology competition for high school students in the United States. Twenty finalists entered a 12-day residential training program at Purdue University, followed by two days of testing to decide which four students would advance to the International Biology Olympiad (IBO) in Denmark.
One portion of this year’s practical exam was to conduct an amino acid titration using LabQuest 2 and the Tris-Compatible Flat pH Sensor. The double junction in this electrode protects it from forming precipitates when used in proteinaceous solutions. The goals of this portion of the exam were to identify the amino acid, based on its observed pKa, and to determine its molar mass, based on the amount of NaOH added to reach the equivalence point.
Another part of the exam involved macromolecular biochemistry and the use of various biochemical tests and techniques to manipulate and identify lipids, carbohydrates, proteins, and nucleic acids. One particularly challenging portion of the exam involved a problem where the students were given a milk sample and had to design their own protocol to isolate the protein casein. Students found that an accurate pH determination is critical in this process. They found that the Tris-Compatible Flat pH Sensor was the right tool for the job. Abhijit Mudigonda, 2015 USA Biology Olympiad Biochemistry Practical author stated, “Vernier’s LabQuests and pH sensors allowed the students to quickly and easily collect and analyze data crucial to their exams.”
We congratulate all 20 students for making it to the USABO finals. The four USABO Gold Medalists, Grace Chen (Bridgewater- Raritan Regional High School, NJ), Yulin Du (Pullman High School, WA), Varun Mangalick (Mounds View High School, MN), and Boyang (Peter) Dun (Canterbury School, IN), went on to earn Gold Medals at the IBO in Denmark in July.
For more information on the USABO, visit www.usabo-trc.org