Indian students won two Silver and one Bronze medal in the XXI International Astronomy Olympiad (IAO) held at Pamporovo, Bulgaria during 5-13 October 2016. Three students along with two officials from National Council of Science Museums (NCSM) participated in the XXI International Astronomy Olympiad and India was among the top four out of all 16 countries, where all participants won medals.M S Wajid from Hyderabad and Prashant Gokhale from Mumbai won silver medals and Harshit Khandelwal from Indore secured the bronze medal.
‘This is a moment of pride not only for NCSM but for entire India as all three Indian students won a medal in IAO. The achievement is also significant for NCSM as this is the first time when Orientation cum Selection Camp (OCSC) and Pre-departure Camp (PDC) was solely organised by NCSM.’-said Shri A. S. Manekar, Director General, NCSM
The IAO is an internationally recognized annual astronomy scientific-educational event, which includes an intellectual competition between high school students of 14–18 years age group. The style of the problems is aimed at developing the imagination, creativity and independent thinking. The Eurasian Astronomical Society founded the IAO in 1996 and the present Chairman is Mr. Michael Gavrilov. The competing part of IAO consists of three rounds: a theoretical, an observational, and a practical.
The selection of three best students to represent India for International Astronomy Olympiad was done in three stages.National Standard Examination in Astronomy (NSEA) was the first stage for the selection of students which was organized with support from the Indian Association of Physics Teachers (IAPT). NSEA held throughout the country in November 2015. About 29,000 students participated in the first stage out of which about 574 were selected for the second stage called Indian National Astronomy Olympiad (INAO) which was held in January 2016 with support from Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education (HBCSE), Mumbai. Orientation cum Selection Camp (OCSC) was the third stage for the final selection of National team for International Astronomy Olympiad.
NCSM organized Orientation Cum Selection Camp (from 5-17th May 2016) and Pre-Departure Training for the Students which was around a month long extensive training session on various rounds of the competitions theoretical, observational, and practical. NCSM officials provided all kind of support to the students and as a result all three students won medals at IAO.