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      Students' science skills tested in annual Bioathlon

      High school students from across the U.P. put their science skills to the test during a competition at Michigan Tech this week.

      Diagnosing dangerous bacteria and dissecting dogfish sharks aren't the kind of biology experiments most high school sophomores conduct, but the annual Bioathlon is no ordinary day in the lab.

      Sixty-four students on 18 teams from high schools across the U.P. participated in the four-part competition, and West Iron County came out on top.

      "We expected it and yet, we didn't, said Joel VanLanen. We felt really confident during the four events. We had great teamwork and we knew what we were doing, but there's always suspense at the end."

      Many of the teams spent several weeks practicing in a lab and out in the field. They were judged on organization, knowledge, skill and creativity, and they only had an hour to complete each assignment.

      "We did the scavenger hunt, and we felt pretty confident about that, said Westwood sophomore Francois Montbrun. I think we did a pretty good job on the chromatography. We were the first ones done and the colors looked good."

      "It was a good learning experience, said Wakefield sophomore Cassie Mercer. We got to look at new stuff and hang out and talk with other people that are into science."

      Awards were given to the top three competitors, but organizers said all of the participants worked hard and did well. They also hope the students learned that science can be a lot of fun.