Training for the olympiad

They won the national science finals in Stockholm and a place in the European Union’s Science Olympiad, EUSO. Science Faculty Magazine met the young hopefuls at the training camp as they prepared for the grand final in Athens.

Six pupils from around Sweden have come to Gothenburg to live together and carry out laboratory work in biology, chemistry and physics. Today, it’s physics. The young people listen with interest as Professor Lennart Sjölin from the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology goes through today’s laboratory work, which is about water.
“Water is fascinating,” says Professor Sjölin as he writes formulae on the board in chalk. “It’s essential to all life in the universe, and we’ll be investigating hardness and oxygen in water.”

Bottles, chemicals and titration equipment are all set up on the benches. There is a slightly dull clinking sound as liquids are measured out and poured into glasses and flasks.
“It’s fun being able to learn more and meet other like-minded people,” says Tobias Wallström from Näsbydal School in Täby. “Of course, it’d be great to place well in Athens, but it’s the competition itself that’s the most fun. I’m looking forward to the whole adventure.”

EUSO is a science competition for primary and secondary school pupils up to the age of 17. The competition involves more than 20 different countries, with each sending six pupils to the grand European final. Gothenburg hosted the EUSO final four years ago. The Swedish team didn’t do very well then, but it was the practical side that let them down rather than the theory. Professor Sjölin’s goal is that this year’s team should learn to ‘work like real chemists’, and thereby achieve a better placing in the final in Athens.

The fact that the young people who have met up in Gothenburg are from different schools around Sweden and didn’t know each other before has not been a problem.
“We’ve gotten to know each other really quickly,” says Axel Strömberg from Erik Dahlberg Upper Secondary School in Jönköping. “It didn’t take long, as we share the same interests.”
Aletta Csapo from Donner Upper Secondary School in Gothenburg believes that conducting more experiments in schools would boost interest in science:
“Starting with experiments arouses curiosity, which in turn creates a desire to know more.”