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Open letter.

This letter contains information about scientific contest Olympiad, which is held yearly in Chernogolovka: a small picturesque village not far from Moscow, in which the Noginsk Scientific
Center (NSC) of the Russian Academy of sciences is situated. The
contest is participated by pupils of the 8-th to the 11-th forms
and consists in solving problems in physics, astronomy and mathematics.
The Olympiad is one of interesting traditions of our scientific centre. It has been held for more than 25 years now on a more
or less regular basis, in 1968-1980 - in winter, than every autumn
(in October, November or December), and since 1998 - in February.
The main participants of the NSC Olympiad are school-children of
the last 4 forms of Russian high schools, i.e. aged 14 to 17. The
Olympiad is not only for those living in Chernogolovka. In 1991 the
list of contestants, for example, included people from more than 50
towns and cities of about 20 regions of North and Central Russia,
Latvia and Estonia.
Most of young people participating the various types of Olympiads are interested in Science and think about it as their future.
They want to learn as much as possible about the advantages and
disadvantages of the profession of Scientist. The main idea we are
pursuing in arranging the NSC Olympiad is to create an imitation of
real everyday work of a Scientist. Of course, this is not an easy
thing to do. Nevertheless our Olympiad turns out to much close to
the realities of scientific work than most of similar contests (also called Olympiads) held by the Ministry of Education.
The scientific problems that are proposed at the NSC Olympiad
are, as a rule, less formal and fairly difficult. Unlike traditional "Ministry-of-Education" Olympiads, at the NSC Olympiad the contestants are permitted to use any kinds of manuals and textbooks
when solving the problems. The problems in physics and mathematics
do not require any knowledge beyond the scope of school courses in
physics and math. The problems in astronomy require level of knowledge just a bit higher than that of an average pupil. In general
as far as the level of problems is concerned, the NSC Olympiad corresponds to the "Republic" stage of the "Ministry-of-Education" Olympiads (the stages are school-district-city(town)-region-RepublicCIS(USSR)-International). Some of the problems in 10-th and 11-th
forms is in English, French, or German. It is up to the participant
to choose the language. Naturally, he is free to use necessary dictionaries. This is again "as in real life" - science is international and scientific worker now and then has to read scientific papers in foreign languages - Chinese, for instance.
Sometimes the contestants are proposed not accurately formulated tasks, where one knows what he has got to find, but a whole
story (as real as our life is), from which the participant has to
"single out" the problems, ignoring all surplus information.
In some cases the second round of the Olympiad is "creative".
That means that the participant is proposed only a general direction of research and some starting data. His job is to formulate the
problem more accurately, create the model and support it with arguments, find reasonable approximations, show which effects can be
neglected and which cannot, and so on.
To provide an illustration we propose to your attention the
program of the NSC Olympiad 1991:
Friday, 13th of December:
Afternoon: arrival and checking-in in the hotel.
Evening : opening session and party. The guests were

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Astronomy: Olympiad of Scientific Centres

told about Chernogolovka, its scientific and

nonscientific problems. Children could talk to
scientists. They were acquainted with research
works carried out in the scientific institutes
located in Chernogolovka.
Saturday, 14th of December:
First round: Participants were proposed 4 problems in
physics, maths, and astronomy. In the 9th form
the assignment had the form of a story.
Sunday, 15th of December:
Second round. Now participant could choose the subject physics, astronomy or math.
Monday, 16th of December:
Closing session: Handing over of rewards and prizes to
the lucky winners.
Our aim in writing this letter is to propose your town or village or scientific centre to take part in the next NSC Olympiad.
Olympiad to be held in February every year. We are looking forward
for your answer. Please let us know your opinion about our proposition. If you have any ideas concerning the Olympiad - subjects,
problems etc. - we are ready to discuss them.

Sincerely yours,
Dr. M.G.Gavrilov, Chairman of the Council of the Olympiad.

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Astronomy: Olympiad of Scientific Centres