Euro-Asian Astronomical Society

The International Astronomy Olympiad

General Rules for organization and holding
of the National Astronomy Olympiads

E-letters to OC of the Olympiad

The Supplementary Instructions N 11

information in Russian language
Supplementary Instructions N 11 in Russian


Every country, regularly participating in IAO has to organize National Astronomy Olympiad (NAO).

There are many ways, many types or systems for NAO organization.

The current document contains recommendations for National Olympiads. We pointed them as "highly recommended", "recommended" or (if the way is not optimal, but possible) "possible way" before the paragraph or item.

The document contains also some obligatory requirements for the National Olympiads, including the requirements for the Olympiads that used for the formation of the National teams for IAO. These requirements are pointed them as "obligatory" before the paragraph or item.

Possible ways. The organization (number of stages, rounds at every stage, contents of tasks, etc) and financing of NAOs may differ considerably.
Obligatory. The committee responsible for the NAO can belong to the national astronomical society, academy of sciences, ministry of education, teachers association, university or other competent body. Very often a cooperation between these institutions is useful.

Possible ways. Structure of the olympic "pyramid" may be different. The number of stages of the National Olympiad from one to five plus possible training camp.

Recommended. We consider that the most developed olympic pyramid is a system of a few different stages during academic year (several months). Each stage is a separate regional olympiad, its winners and prize-winners participate in the next stage, - up to the final (national) stage. At each stage the new original tasks are given to the participants.

Recommended. The following number of stages and pyramid structure of the Olympiad are recommended by the IAO Council:

Stage Explanation of stage Population of the territory (approx.) Recommended dates
For the countries with population till 2-3 106 itizens:
I stage Olympiads in schools, planetaria, circles till 104 October 1 -
November 15
II stage Olympiads of small towns, districts till 2 105 November 16 -
December 31
III stage Final stage of the National Olympiad Whole country January 1 -
February 14
- Participating in IV-V stages of other countries' olympiads recommended Nearest countries February 15 -
May 15
IV stage Camp Whole country
or with the nearest countries
March 16 -
June 30
For the countries with population till 4-6 107 itizens:
I stage Olympiads in schools, planetaria, circles till 104 October 1 -
November 15
II stage Olympiads of small towns, districts till 2 105 November 16 -
December 31
III stage Olympiads of cities, regions till 3 106 January 1 -
February 14
IV stage Final stage of the National Olympiad Whole country February 15 -
March 31
V stage Camp Whole country April 1 -
June 30
For larger countries:
I stage Olympiads in schools, planetaria, circles till 104 October 1 -
November 15
II stage Olympiads of small towns, districts till 2 105 November 16 -
December 31
III stage Olympiads of cities, regions till 4 106 January 1 -
February 14
IV stage Olympiads of large territories of the country till 7 107 February 15 -
March 31
V stage Final stage of the National Olympiad Whole country April 1 -
May 15
VI stage Camp Whole country May 16 -
June 30

Recommended. At every stage pupils are selected in one or more rounds in which they have to deal with test questions. In some countries students take their tests at a university, but normally the tests are taken at schools in cooperation with teachers, while a small assessment team is responsible for the questions which are sent to the schools participating in the stage of NAO.

Recommended. As usual winners and prize-winners of the previous stage of the Olympiad to take part in the next stage. Additionally correspondent stages may be organized. As usual, correspondence olympiads are open for participation of any student.

Recommended. It is recommended to form the (age) groups of participants according to year of education of the students in school. It is not necessary (and even it is not recommended) to follow the requirements for the IAO age groups at the National Olympiads.

Possible way. In the case of the only stage (that is possible for the countries, starting their activity in organizing National Olympiads) five (or three) winners of NAO may be directly selected to participate in IAO.

It is highly recommended to follow the basic principle of the International Science Olympiads on using various languages: any student has a right to get conditions of the problems and to write the solutions in the native language or in that language which is more suitable for him or her. If the organizing committee cannot itself provide the conditions of the problems and to check the solutions in any necessary languages , the team leaders should be involved into this work.
This point is obligatory for organizing Olympiads in the countries-members of the Charters for Languages.

Obligatory. It is important that the number of the prize-winners of any stage of the Olympiad who have rights to participate in the next stage must be enough for correct formation of the National team to IAO. I.e. the following situation must be impossible: excellent results of one student from a province (territory, city, town) leads to impossibility of other students from this province (territory, city, town) to be a member of a National team due to the rule restricting participation of the second (third) ranked student from a province at the next stage of the Olympiad. You see it is possible, that the second (third) ranked student from a province can appear the second (third) at the next stage of the Olympiad as well.

Possible way. Other way of organization of the Olympic system in a country is "correspondence pyramid". Nevertheless, the local olympiads - the Olympiads in schools, planetaria, circles, small towns and districts are highly desirable. As usual only correspondence stages give quite smaller effect.

Possible way. The "multiple-choice questions" is a fast and simple way to check students' knowledge of formal facts. It can be really good to select the best (by these formal criteria) students. In particular it happens actual while an olympiad organizes in a town or a province, where there is no enough qualified jury, where qualified jury members cannot arrive from other places due to various reasons or where there are thousands of participants at some correspondence stage of an olympiad. But the "multiple-choice questions" do not stimulate the students to recognize the problem independently, to choose a model, to make necessary suppositions, estimations, to conduct multiway calculations or logic operations.

Not recommended. It is not reasonable to use the "multiple-choice questions" on high level olympiads. (See also explanations about it in the "frequently asked questions".)

Recommended. It is important, that the problems for the high level stages of the National Olympiad should enable different approaches to the solution, different ways and methods in the solution. Participants should have a possibility to exhibit the analytical capacities, and not just to do all procedures by hard rules. The correct formal final answer (formula or numerical value) should not play the determining role in the evaluation. Also the jury must not demand from participants the same way of solution as written by the author (composer of the problem).

Recommended. After selection at the final stage of the National Olympiad, the finalists are trained together during some time in scientific skills. The length of this training varies per country from a few days to two weeks at maximum. Two or a few countries may organize common camp in the case the students use the same language.
Obligatory. In order to avoid specialized training becoming more important than intelligence during the IAO the maximum length of training in a group smaller than 50 students should not exceed two weeks.

Possible way. Example problems and questions of the IAO are available on the IAO website. The use of complete tasks of former IAO's in national rounds and for training purposes is allowed, but (obligatory) publication of these tasks on Internet or anywhere else should not happen.

Possible way. Some countries do have a last stage which is a combination of selection and training. In this case a small group consisting of more than five finalists are brought together and trained and at the end, a final tests decides which five students will be the real winners and subsequently representatives of the country in the International Olympiad.

Recommended. In most cases the award of the prizes at the national Olympiad (or competition) takes place during an official ceremony by a well-known scientist or important personality in education. Often the last stage of the National Olympiad is not only a training in specific scientific subjects, but also recreative. Cultural activities may be on the program and extra attention should be paid to stimulate the scientific development of these talented students.

Recommended. Often physics and astronomy departments of universities are interested in being a partner in the olympiad as this activity stimulates these sciences as an attractive future university study for secondary school pupils. Contacts between secondary and academic education also favours discussions about programs and direction in study. So universities very often are the host of the group of olympic finalists and participate in the organization responsible for preparing and marking the various test rounds.

Recommended. In some countries publications about the Olympiad (or competition) appear in (semi) scientific or educational national journals.

Recommended. If information leaflets and posters about the olympiad are sent to schools all over the country this sometimes is financed by revenues obtained by advertisements of educational publishers, manufacturers, teacher training centers, associations for the promotion of science, universities, industries or even banks.

Recommended. These are also the institutions which often are willing to offer prizes to be given to the winners of the national olympiads, during the final ceremony.

Obligatory. The report with texts of all problems used during all-national stages (including ones during the possible preparing camps) of the National Olympiad should be done in one of the official languages of the Olympiad (Russian or English). The final minutes (protocols written in Latin or Cyrillic in form of tables) of the Olympiad (evaluating of solutions of the students participated in the last stage of the Olympiad) should be included as well. The report has to be presented at least 5 weeks before the application to participate in IAO.

    Dr. Michael G. Gavrilov, Chairman of the Coordinating Council
    of the International Astronomy Olympiad,
    ISSP of Russ. Acad. Sci., Institute street 2, 142432 Chernogolovka, Moscow region, Russia.

    fax: + 7-(496-52)-28-160

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