Tartu Observatory handed out two special awards at the Young Scientists’ Festival

Kairi Janson | 20.04.2018

On April 13 to 14, Tartu Observatory team attended the Young Scientists’ Festival at the Estonian National Museum. They put out two special awards for young scientists and introduced our activities: for example, the pupils could try the job of a space test engineer.

õpilaste teadusfestival 2018

„This is one of the biggest free educational events in Estonia and introduces students and their teachers the exciting world of research, technology, and engineering,“ described the Head of Tartu Observaotry’s Visitor Centre Tanel Liira. The festival lets pupils, their teachers, and relatives meet with researchers.

From sunspots to UVB radiation

An important part of the event were poster presentations held by the best pupils of the National Contest of Young Scientists. Some science popularizators got the opportunity to recognise the students with awards. Tartu Observatory handed out two special awards.

The first laureate was twelfth-grader of Tallinn French Shool Madli Kurvet. The name of Kurvet’s research project was „The Connections between Sunspots, Solar Flares, Solar Prominence Eruptions, and Coronal Mass Ejections“. Liira stated that the project stood out for its volume and that the author consistently followed the hypothesis. Kurvet reached the conclusion that the time series of all the processes are cyclic but there is an infrequent delay in time between them. This result matches with the modern knowledge, Liira said.

The second young scientist to earn the observatory’s special award was Eva Liisi Ojaveer, class 12 pupil at Hugo Treffner Gymnasium. Her project focused on the effect of sun screen and textiles on the reach of UVB radiation. „The level of this research project was above average,“ Liira noted. He said that the research task was clear, the topic important, the experiments scientifically accounted for, and the analysis logical. The formatting of Ojaveer’s work was also notable.

Mari Allik, engineer at the observatory’s department of space technology said that reqognizing research projects motivates pupils to research even more exciting topics and keep them interested in science. „Maybe they will sit down with their friends or parents and discuss scientific problems? Maybe they will be more and more interested in the things that we don’t have answers for yet?“ Allik added that the skill of independently finding solutions to problems is useful in life.

Future Space Test Engineers

„For us, the festival is important because through direct communication we get to introduce the activities of the observatory and the visitor centre and invite more schools to visit us,“ said Liira. Observatory’s Project Coordinator Karin Pai noted that the festival could also give research institutions a chance to show that they are ready to supervise research projects in their fields.

At the observatory’s desk, pupils got to put themselves to test as space test engineers and do a shock resistance test on the model of ESTCube-1. At the same time, the observatory workers talked about how these kinds of tests are actually done at the observatory. Other than that, the observatory’s team decoded Morse code with the pupils, the schoolchildren could participate in a space-related orienteering game and see the new travelling exhibition called “Hello, Earth”.

At the festival, one could see robots, drones and for example a helium-filled balloon and the research station that was sent up 26 800 metres above the ground with it. The station was sent to the edge of space in March by Väätsa Primary school. Temperature sensors and cameras to observe the ground were integrated into the research station. „In my opinion, it is a very cool thing to do and it was great that they got to show their results at the festival,“ Allik said. Pai noted that interest towards both the observatory’s activities and work shops held at the festival was great.

The summaries of the research projects that earned the observatory’s special awards and other pojects that took part of the national contest can be read here (in Estonian).

There were about 1800 pupils at the festival on Thursday and about 700 on Friday.