Excitement is building for the European Schools’ annual Science Symposium. This year it’s all happening in Varese! The Parents’ Association, AGSEV, caught up with one of the two coordinators of the Symposium Ms Fenia Tsompanopoulou to find out how the parents can get involved.
Hello Ms Tsompanopoulou! Could you tell us what you normally do in the school, and what your connection is to the Symposium?
I am a Secondary School teacher of Philosophy, English L2/L3 and Film Studies, and have been working in ESV for 9 years now. I am also the Coordinator of ESSS 23, responsible mostly for the event part, the ceremonies, sponsorships, accommodation, transport, evening activities etc My co-Coordinator Ms Dudal is responsible for the scientific competition at the JRC and also part of the activities. Organising the ESSS is a huge endeavour requiring synergy and investment of both time and energy!
Our children just had a ‘Science Week’ in February. How is the Symposium different?
Science Week was five days of science-based activities for all our pupils, from Nursery to Secondary.* We had educational visits, lectures, shows, and exhibitions, either organised by or led by our teachers. It went very well, and we intend to repeat this special week every two years.
The students also did some active, hands-on learning, by working on their projects for the Symposium. They needed to come up with an original research idea, then carry out a practical experiment, from which they collected and analysed some data. They then wrote up a scientific report which was presented and judged at the end of the Science Week and the best projects selected will now compete at the European Schools Science Symposium in March, with the continued support of their teachers of course.
What happens at the Symposium?
The Symposium is a 4-day event, with participants coming in from across Europe. Secondary cycle projects will be displayed during a poster session/ showcased at the JRC in Ispra. Contestants will present and explain their work to the judges (scientific experts) and to everyone visiting their stands. Trophies and prizes will be awarded to the best projects, and the winners of the senior groups will go on to represent the European Schools at the EU Contest for Young Scientist (EUCYS) in September in Brussels.
How many students will be taking part, and where are they from?
This year, more than 200 participants, 165 students and 40 teachers, from 19 European and Accredited Schools will be coming to Varese to present their projects, out of the 13 European and more than 20 Accredited Schools that currently exist. We are all looking forward to connecting with our colleagues from across Europe, with school leaders and visiting scientists expected to attend, and most importantly with the competing students, our future scientists. Do take a look at the ESSS website and the gallery from previous years.
How is the event funded?
The event is partly funded by the European School system itself, together with the support of our partners in the Joint Research Centre (JRC) in Ispra, the European Patent Office (EPO), and by private sponsorships that we as coordinators have tried really hard to collect. The Symposium is particularly costly this year, for different reasons. For instance, the location of our school in relation to the JRC means that buses had to be hired and hotel accommodation to be provided (as there are no hostels in Varese), for twice as many budding scientists that participate this year compared to 2022. Therefore, we would really appreciate any financial contribution towards this event, and that is why AGSEV’s fund-raising initiative is of crucial importance to us. We appreciate your gesture immensely!
Why should the parents support this event?
Parents, and thus AGSEV, play an important role in the school life and always support the school community and major events. That is why the President of the Parents Association, Mr Joao Barroso, has been invited to the Closing Ceremony of the Symposium to represent AGSEV and, also as a scientist, to briefly address the subject of Bioethics. Unfortunately other parents cannot be present due to both space restrictions and the JRC’s strict safety rules.
But we do hope Parents can make their presence felt on occasions such as this, when the school makes an enormous effort to organise and host events of European dimensions. Parents are an integral part of our community and we need to work together to offer our children such unique opportunities. We are all links of the same chain that keeps our school safe and united, so any form or degree of financial solidarity that parents could show at this time would be very gratefully received.
Many thanks for taking the time to talk to us, we hope the event will be a big success for students and teachers alike!
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to present and explain ESSS 23 in more detail and, a very big thanks to all the parents for their continuous support!
* except for S5 who are on a trip and S7 who are preparing for their BACs.
(Article by Ally Micklem)
Pavla is an AGSEV Board representative for SWALS