It’s a great opportunity for students to explore and determine which discipline or field in science they are interested in and may want to pursue in the future. The SBC competition allows students to develop important skills such as public speaking, problem solving, and time management. It is also an excellent way to network and make contacts in the science field.
The SBC competition allows students to develop practical knowledge and apply material learned in class directly in the lab through the guidance and supervision of mentors. The competition gives students a real-life, hands-on experience that extends far beyond the high school classroom.
It is a good idea for students keep on top of recent scientific news and discoveries by browsing through scientific magazines and research articles. Students can write down questions they may have based on their preliminary readings and research, and develop experiments from those questions. Students should focus on doing their projects on whatever interests them and motivates them to do the research.
Before beginning their proposal, students are encouraged to research potential mentors who are working in their area of interest, to help ensure that their project matches with a mentor in their region. Students should reach out to potential mentors, explaining their research interests and participation in SBC, and ask if the researcher would be willing to mentor them for their research project. Your regional coordinator is available to support participants in finding a mentor. In addition, graduate and post doctorate students are able to provide mentorship to students under the sanction of the Principal Investigator.
Each student team is required to submit a lab journal for part of their project evaluation. The type of lab book required is one that is easily obtainable at stores such as Staples or Office Depot. The recommended type is a Blueline Hard Cover Flush-cut Composition Book (7 ¼” x 9 ¼”). They sell for under $10. Digital lab books are acceptable.
For a scientist the lab book is a record of everything connected with his or her research. It is a record of the procedures, observations and results of ongoing research and it is a place to record those ideas that occur to a scientist as he or she thinks about the work. It is a record of when ideas were born in case there is a dispute over patents or intellectual property. There are some standard procedures common to most institutions. These are listed below and are the organizational and procedural aspects of keeping a lab book. As well, there are some expectations as to the kinds of content expected. These are in the checklist that judges will use to assess your lab books.
Laboratory notebook checklist
- Before you begin any entries, number every page of your lab book consecutively in the upper right hand corner of each page. Do not leave out any pages.
- Date every page of the book as you use it and every entry if doesn’t start on a new page. If you make a mistake, cross it out with a single stroke and initial it. Do not remove any pages from the book.
- Do not use white out or liquid paper.
- Glue a copy of the experimental procedure or protocol in the notebook the first time you use that procedure.
- Do not leave empty pages between experiments. Just write “continued on page ##” where you end and “continued from page ##” where you begin again.
- Start a new page for each different experiment or project.
- Glue diagrams and photos in at the appropriate place and initial the corner of the photo or diagram.
- If you are using kits in your protocols, make a summary in your lab book showing that you know what is happening.
- Include enough details so that others could repeat your experiments with or without kits. You are marking a trail for others to follow.
- IMPORTANT: Have your mentor sign the lab book indicating that he or she has seen it.
Check out our Tips on Preparing Posters for more information.
You should be prepared to provide your an electronic version of a final report. Your report must be the single slide from which your display poster was printed.
Some general tips:
- Summarize your experiment in a single paragraph of not more than 250 words.
- Write in third person and use the past tense.
- Use one sentence to describe the general topic to be investigated and why it is important. Describe in one or two sentences, the specific question or relationship that you are investigating.
- Tell how you did the investigation in one or two sentences, avoiding a detailed description of procedure.
- Explain in one or two sentences the main point(s) of what you found out. Remember that negative results are useful as well. (If you haven’t collected or analyzed all of your data yet, indicate that and then modify your Abstract when you do your final report and poster board).
- Write a single sentence that summarizes your conclusions about the general topic, question or relationship that you investigated.
The primary concern at the SBC competition is that of public safety. Many subject organisms and materials that may be used acceptably in your research under the supervision and approval of your mentor and his/her institution, are not permissible for exhibition purposes at the SBC competition. Simulations or photographs can be substituted. The display is a presentation of the results, NOT a demonstration of the experiments.
Only projects done by an individual student are allowed to compete in the SBC and the International Biogenius Challenge
A participating student should expect to dedicate an average of 10 hours per week between the months of November and March.
The SBC demands commitment and so it is extremely important that students manage their time effectively. Using a planner or schedule is a good way to keep track and use time productively.
- Determine where your interests lie in science
- Start looking for potential mentors beforehand
- Develop questions and experimental designs in advance
- Manage your time effectively
- Have confidence and trust in yourself
- Take advantage of all of your resources
- Communicate with your leaders
The national program coordinator ensures that the competition runs smoothly and according to plan from application through to the completion of the regional and national competitions. Along with that, the national program coordinator will help to match participants with mentors if needed, will provide students access to valuable resources, and connect them with contacts.