An Orientation cum Selection Camp (OCSC) for International Astronomy Olympiad (IAO) 2016 was held at National Council of Science Museums (NCSM) from 2nd to 17th May 2016.

Three selected students from the Orientation cum Selection Camp (OCSC) for International Astronomy Olympiad (IAO) were introduced during the Valedictory session of the OCSC. The selected students would represent India at XXI International Astronomy Olympiad 2016 scheduled to be held from October 5-13, 2016 at Bulgaria. 

The International Astronomy Olympiad (IAO) is an internationally recognized annual astronomy scientific-educating event for high school students (14–18 years old), which includes an intellectual competition between these students. The Eurasian Astronomical Society founded the IAO in 1996 and the chairman is Michael Gavrilov.

The competing part of IAO consists of three rounds: a theoretical, an observational, and a practical. The International Astronomy Olympiad is carried out in the spirit of friendship and tolerance, where the competition is a stimulus for showing the participants’ capabilities but contacts, exchange of ideas and collaboration between students, teachers and scientists from various countries have a primary importance. The competition at the IAO is not the only part of the programme. 

Speaking on the occasion Shri A. S. Manekar, Director General, National Council of Science Museums (NCSM) said-‘Last year Indian students have won 3 silver medals at the International Astronomy Olympiad held at Kazan. This year, I hope the selected students will give their best and get Gold medal for India. NCSM has been involved in selecting and mentoring students for this program.’ 

Dr. Kanchan Chowdhury, Curator, NCSM & Program Coordinator for Orientation Cum Selection Camp for Astronomy Olympiad briefed about details of the Astronomy Olympiad. He told that the school students from class 8th to 10th may take part in this Olympiad.

The selection for the National team representation to International Astronomy Olympiad is done in three stages.National Standard Examination in Astronomy (NSEA) is the first stage of selection of students which is organized with support from the Indian Association of Physics Teachers (IAPT). NSEA is held at a large number of centres in the country. About 29,000 students participated at the first stage in November 2015 and out of which about 574 were selected for the second stage. A student must secure a score equal to or greater than a Minimum Admissible Score (MAS) for appearing in second stage. Indian National Astronomy Olympiad (INAO) is the second stage that leads to the participation in Orientation cum Selection Camp (OCSC). 292 students appeared for the second stage at INAO in January 2016. INAO is being organized with support from Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education (HBCSE), Mumbai. Orientation cum Selection Camp (OCSC) is the third stage for final selection of Indian representation at International Astronomy Olympiad.   

Since the inception of INAO in 1998, National Astronomy Olympiad camp was conducted for the 18th year from 2nd to 17th May 2016.  For the first time, it was organized in Kolkata. Earlier, it was organized at Nehru Science Centre, Mumbai, a national level unit of NCSM and Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education (HBCSE), Mumbai.

A comprehensive training for enriching students’ knowledge about various topics in astronomy related to theoretical concepts, data analysis work & optical observations of celestial objects and natural phenomenon was given to students by various teaching faculty from Presidency University, Vivekananda University, Indian Statistical Institute, Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics, Indian Centre for Space Physics, Kolkata, scientists & amateur astronomers from other organisations and curators from NCSM units. For the final selection 7 tests were conducted: 3 Theory, 2 Lab data Tests & 2 Observational tests. The final evaluation is based on a series of theoretical examinations (50% weightage) data analysis examinations (30% aggregate weightage) and observational examinations (20% aggregate weightage) held during the camp.

Shri B. B. Srivastav, Education Officer, National Science Centre, Delhi gave vote of thanks.

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