Estonia to organize biggest European science contest in May
Estonia has earned the right to organize the next European Union Science Olympiad (EUSO), a team-based competition in natural sciences.
EUSO was founded by Michael Cotter in 2003 to advance the integrated studies of biology, chemistry and physics in order to give students a broader understanding of how different fields are connected and what happens in nature and society.
Cotter visited Estonia this week to confirm that the country is ready and capable of organizing the olympiad, one of the largest and most important in the EU.
The 14th European Union Science Olympiad will take place in Tartu and Tallinn on May 7-14, 2016, and include representatives from all EU countries. Each country can enter two three-student teams, the members of which must be 16 years or younger at the of the competition.
Deputy Secretary General of the Ministry of Education and Research Mart Laidmets says that organizing EUSO is a great honor for Estonia and it comes with many positive aspects which pupils, teachers and society as a whole should notice and support.
“This is a chance for Estonia to introduce and demonstrate our competence through natural science education. To me this seems like a springboard for pupils and teachers to increase cooperation with European Union pupils and teachers. New contacts enable the mentors who participate in the olympiad to share teaching experience and materials of natural sciences and also share best practices which could promote reaching a new level in the integrated teaching of natural sciences,” he added.
According to Karin Hellat, EUSO Program Manager and lecturer at University of Tartu Institute of Chemistry, the academic committee who prepares the tasks for the competition comprises of young people who have represented Estonia in EUSO previously and are today students of the University of Tartu. An Estonian team took home the EUSO trophy in 2008 and 2012, and came second in 2011.
“I am convinced that science olympiads encourage students to improve themselves in this field and value cooperation, which is required of members of all the teams in order to successfully solve the tasks. The ultimate aim of the olympiad is to increase students’ interest in natural sciences which in turn helps future career choices and the formation of a research based society,” Hellat said.
The main organizer of EUSO is the University of Tartu and it is funded by the Ministry of Education and Research. The steering committee founded by the ministry also includes representatives of Tallinn University of Technology, Estonian University of Life Sciences, Science Center AHHAA and Tartu city government.