Activity Report of the “EUREKA” Foundation – 2010
The report that we presented to the Council of the foundation is sequential and largely indicative of the extent to which we fulfill the mission that a group of enthusiasts undertook twenty-one years ago with the establishment of the new organization. Without the necessary experience it was not easy to create something new because the conditions were new and new ways and means had to be found to achieve the goals of the organization. Last year was not an easy one for us because it presented us with new conditions – those of a financial crisis and the natural difficulties accompanying any development. Our expectations to have better opportunities to carry out our activities were not justified. The need for more care and attention to young people and children with outstanding abilities in science and technology is present and it grows faster than it did a couple of years ago. On the one hand this is the wish of all of us to change contemporary education so that it can enable students to master the knowledge that meets the requirements and needs of the time and thus to improve the competitive professional knowledge and skills. At the same time it is of great importance for our economy to introduce new techniques and technologies of science and its achievements that have been developed by young people with innovative thinking and pragmatic action. We can hardly be indifferent to the last places in the rankings of European Union countries in terms of quality of knowledge to productivity level and production efficiency. The great turmoil in the field of science in our country is indicative of very serious problems related to the work of young scientists and specialists, which will be difficult to overcome in the years to come. At the heart of our ambitions lies the desire to see our place as an organization in these public processes and to work for better results and more future activities.
The programs approved by the Council of the foundation form the core of the documents that organize our work. They contain the main objectives of the Foundation that have been brought up to date with the requirements of the time and the tested mechanisms of our longstanding practice that ensure achieving the desired results. All the decisions of the Executive Bureau and all the projects and initiatives are subject to these programs and are in strict compliance with their parameters. We also followed the principles of our work – to prioritize the projects and activities in accordance with the main tasks, to apply the principle of competition in the selection of the projects receiving our support, and to provide full transparency and accountability of the costs and the results achieved. All this will be illustrated with facts set out in the report on core activities. The activities and the expenses within our approved budget are shown there – the overall results are presented in separate sections while all expenses are supported by references for the respective programs. We sought for the most efficient spending without diminishing the quality or the performance.
During the reporting period, the Executive Bureau worked as a corporate body and took decisions by consensus. The conclusions and opinions for the future expressed in this document are also supported by its members. This style of work was defining in the decision-making process for funding various activities. The expert potential of all the members was used and this allowed us to deal with emerging problems and even to save some money from the planned budget.
I. The ideal goals of the Foundation – implementation
Our expectations for this year were that we will work in the conditions of major changes in education and science, with which our scope of activity is directly linked. This did not happen and we worked according to the old rules, seeking both to preserve the best of our traditions and to find new opportunities for change in our own scope of activity. We continued to support the thesis that we must seek and find new opportunities to work with talented young people and children because they are expected to be the driving force for change and new forms of organization and functioning of the educational and research processes. They are the ones that will ensure by means of their knowledge and competences the successful development and implementation of new techniques and technologies that guarantee greater competitiveness. This process is not an easy one but it presents the opportunity for civic groups to participate more actively in it, to unite their efforts with those of the government in order to achieve the objectives, ensuring the existence of qualified staff of a new kind. It is exactly this process that ‘Eureka’ would like to foster and contribute to.
1. About: Fostering the acquisition of scientific, technical and economic knowledge, developing skills and culture-awareness among the young generation, providing training and vocational retraining to young people with outstanding abilities in the field of science, technology and management.
The new technologies of the 21st century require a new quality of knowledge which in turn is linked to the extent to which young people are motivated to acquire a high level of fundamental and professional knowledge. Our program “Talents” serves as a basis for our involvement in these processes of motivating high school and university students and encouraging those of them who demonstrate abilities to master such knowledge and apply it in their work. Some of the young people with outstanding abilities from this group are provided with additional opportunities for financial support and development.
The implementation of the program during the reporting year shows that it continues to be one of the most important programs in terms of prestige and financial support of all the achievements and costs during the period. The funds granted for scholarships predominate. We provide financial support because we are aware that in times of crisis, increasing university tuition fees and high prices of books and textbooks, financial support is very important and valuable.
The basic rules of this activity are still functioning as a good selection mechanism. They contain objective criteria and procedures for all types of scholarships established by the Council of the foundation – nominal scholarships, medalists from international events for science and technology. We followed strictly all the procedures and made a very good and accurate selection. This led to the selection of the most outstanding students in the competition for scholarships in the name of ten Bulgarian scientists who contributed to the development of national and world science. We invited scientists and experts from different fields who helped us to make the right choice.
Forty-two students were invited for an interview with the selection committee for the final round of the competitions for the 10 nominal grants. This is the result of tight competition among students who apart from high grades have achieved significant results in national and international competitions, Olympiads, scientific conferences, etc. It should be noted that the members of the selection committees were very responsible in the selection of the grantees. The committees included three academicians, two members-correspondents, six professors and six other distinguished scientists and experts. Their professional work, combined with an objective assessment of the students allowed us to achieve great accuracy in the selection of the 10 grantees. There is a tendency for more and more well-qualified candidates to compete for these scholarships. As a result of the implementation of the selection mechanisms for grantees, we now have 37 grantees, 28 of which are university students and 9 – high-school students.
According to the regulation of the “Talents” programme, the medal winners of the international high-school Olympiads form the second large group of grantees. It continues to be relatively big just like the achievements of the Bulgarian students in the past 2010. Among the grantees of the Foundation for the last year were 3 gold-medal winners of international high-school Olympiads, 8 silver-medal winners and 16 bronze-medal winners.
Our activities connected with the granting of scholarships for young Bulgarian students that study in Bulgaria are viewed with respect in society. Following the established tradition, we gave at an official ceremony the scholarship certificates to the grantees on the eve of the students’ holiday and tried once again to attract the attention of potential contributors who would help us expand the scope of our activities and provide scholarships for more talented young Bulgarians.
For the 11th time we managed to implement successfully the project “Students’ Institute of Mathematics and Informatics”. We founded it together with the Institute of Mathematics and Informatics at the BAS, the IF “St. Cyril and Methodius” and the Union of Mathematicians in Bulgaria as one of the initiatives in the celebration of the year 2000, declared by UNESCO as World Mathematical Year. It is a long-term program that stimulates the work of famous Bulgarian scientists with secondary school students who have shown great ability in Mathematics and Informatics. As part of its annual program different events are held such as student conferences, interviews for selection of participants in the Research Science Institute at MIT, summer research school, student workshops and seminars for teachers in Mathematics, Informatics and Information Technology. Since its foundation, in the activities of the Students’ Institute of Mathematics and Informatics were involved over 2000 students with over 1350 projects in Mathematics, Informatics and Information Technology. To guarantee the high scientific level of the projects over 770 highly qualified teachers in Mathematics and Informatics, university professors, scientists, students, software experts and students in their last year at high school were involved in the activities of the Institute. In the school year 2009/2010 more than 240 students participated in the activities of the Students’ Institute of Mathematics and Informatics. The tenth student conference was held from 15 to 17 January 2010. More than 100 students and 20 teachers took part in the sections on Mathematics and Informatics. The total number of projects submitted was 75, of which 35 were in Mathematics and 40 in Informatics and Information Technology. For participation in the Tenth Anniversary Student Section 87 projects were submitted, of which 25 were in Mathematics and 62 in Informatics and Information Technology. Authors of these projects were 124 students from the seventh to the twelfth grade from 26 schools from 18 cities. The Tenth National Anniversary Research Summer School for youths took place in two stages: School of Informatics and Information Technology and School of Mathematics, in which 48 students from the eighth to the eleventh grade from eighteen math and vocational high schools took part. The scientific program of the two schools included lectures, seminars and individual work on specific topics and tasks. The scientific program was open to all students and teachers in Mathematics, Informatics and Information Technology.
As part of our activities to meet the stated objective of discovering and helping talented students we work in partnership with other organizations and structures. We are extremely happy that all clubs that we created under the project “Clubs for science and technology for students” continue to work and are very closely integrated into our organization. Their members are among the most active participants in the competitions organized by us. After being properly guided by us, some of them not only participated but also won prizes in the XII National Competition “Young Talents”, organized by the Ministry of Education and Science .32 projects were submitted in three categories: Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Social Sciences and Information and Communication Technologies. The top three places in the rankings took part in the European competition for young talents in Lisbon.
2. About: Fostering scientific and technical research among young scholars and the development of inventive and innovative activities.
The program “Research” plays a major organizing role in achieving this goal. The total budget of the competition within the program is 700 000 BGN. Its purpose is to support the scientific development of young scientists and their research initiatives in all scientific fields. Twenty-six projects were approved for funding. We used our previous experience and after a thorough analysis of the projects and with the assistance of established Bulgarian scholars deeply involved with the activities of the Foundation, it was decided that 3 projects will be financed by our program.
Another very successful activity that stimulates the creativity among students is competitions. Alone or in partnership with other organizations we organized quite a lot of competitions in 2010. Our best partner in these initiatives and activities continues to be the National Palace of Children. Thanks to its support we can continue the tradition of holding national competitions in key areas of science and the environment. All other projects of the Foundation enjoy its wholehearted support.
Once again in 2010 we conducted the XII National Competition “Space – present and future of the human race” under the patronage of the first Bulgarian astronaut Gen. Georgi Ivanov. It was supported by the Bulgarian scientists working in the field of space research and utilization. The expert selection committee headed by Prof. Tzvetan Dachev from the Institute of Space and Solar-Terrestrial Research at the BAS selected the winners of the twelfth edition of the competition. We are pleased to note that interest in the competition is constantly increasing. The new aspects that we introduced made it attractive for a large group of people who are looking for an opportunity to use new computer equipment and technology for the presentation of their original ideas. According to the expert opinion of the selection committee the quality of the projects submitted continues to rise. 1,062 young talents from over 180 schools and extra-curricular structures that stimulate the work with students demonstrated their knowledge and skills in five thematic areas in 2010.
The competitions organized by international organizations that we are members of and by other partner organizations also proved to be attractive to young people. We strive to provide information for them on time and by working as local coordinators to help for the organization of many of them. Most of these competitions were organized by MILSET which provided most of the prizes and grants. Once again we received many awards in the prestigious international competition for scientific photography.
Our partnership with the National Palace of Children contributes significantly to the process of fostering creativity among children and young people, especially in the organization of national scientific and technical events with students from the 5th to the 8th grade and from the 9th to the 12th grade; national competitions in aero-modeling, car-modeling, ship-modeling and rocket-modeling; the national competition for student projects in ecology and environmental protection and the national competition “Nature – our home”. We believe that these initiatives meet the interests of the students. We are ready to continue with our project activities in this direction.
During the reporting year we co-organized mainly with logistical support several activities among young students and scientists. In 2010 together with the chemical section of the Humboldt Union in Bulgaria, the Chemical Faculty of Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”, the Student Council at the Faculty of Chemistry and National Center for New Materials UNION we participated in the organization of the Ninth National Conference on Chemistry for undergraduate and graduate students. We took part in many forums within the pan-European tradition “Researchers’ Night”.
As a result of the search for new opportunities to join efforts, to achieve more significant results and to educate the young people in the spirit of innovation, in 2010 we supported the second national exhibition of inventions and innovations organized by the Union of Inventors in Bulgaria. We
participated in the National Round Table “Education and training for developing the prospects of Bulgaria 2010”, National discussion on “The Bulgarian School – the key to knowledge society and economy” and the eighth consecutive “John Atanasov” award ceremony organized by the President of Bulgaria which honors the achievements of young people in the sphere of computer and information technologies and information society development in Bulgaria.
This year we organized once again the competitions “Eureka” for achievements in science, for young managers, inventors and farmers. These competitions have long traditions – some of them were held for the twenty-first time (the competition for young managers for example) while the youngest of them – the one for achievements in science – was held for the 15th time.
The “Eureka” Award for achievements in science in 2010 was awarded to Razvigor Darlenski from Medical University – Sofia for the excellent defense of his dissertation “Clinical and experimental studies on the role of the epidermal barrier in contact hypersensitivity and irritation of the skin.”
The “Eureka” Award for young inventor in 2010 went to Peter Lozanov from Sofia for his inventions “Method and device for rectification under reduced pressure”, registered as a patent and “Device for mixing and circulation of heterogeneous fluids” registered as a useful model. He is the sole owner of the two inventions. Stanislav Gurov and Ivo Nikolov were awarded with an honorary diploma for excellent performance in the competition for young inventors.
The “Eureka” award for young managers in 2010 went to Elena Marinova – manager of Musala Soft LTD. Boris Kolev, executive manager of CSR Bulgaria and executive director of JT International, was awarded with an honorary diploma for excellent performance in the competition for young managers and innovation.
The twentieth “Eureka” award for young farmers was awarded to Dimitar Nikolov – a farmer from the town of Rakovski.
In the new conditions of production, the knowledge and skills of professionals and contractors are becoming more and more important. Competitiveness is a function resultant not only from the new technologies but also from the professional qualities of the participants in the production process. This requires not only key competencies, but also expert knowledge. It is exactly such expert knowledge that we aim to develop by the services that we offer to young people. We continue to provide specialized information by organizing consultations in the consulting offices that we created with the aim of protecting intellectual property when it comes to matters of organization and operation of businesses and NGOs. The consulting offices continue to function successfully. Our consultants are experienced professionals who help young people and our organization by working as intermediaries between young people with needs and knowledgeable and experienced professionals.
In the twenty-first century the role of information for achieving high competence among young professionals and teenagers increased significantly. In this process the Internet plays an exclusive role as a tool for information distribution. Although books and magazines, especially the specialized ones, play a secondary role in this process, they are still important. A year ago, we donated the books provided by the academic publishing-house “Marin Drinov” to the eleven school clubs for science and technology that we created and they were accepted with great interest and satisfaction by the students and their scientific supervisors. Last year Prof. Slavcho Ushev, who is a longtime member of the special selection committee at the Foundation, donated 30 copies of his latest scientific book in the field of nuclear physics, which we provided to our grantees, winners of competitions and other active students, enthusiastic about the vast expanses of Physics. We also use the global information network Internet to reach the largest possible number of users with information about our activities, competitions and events that we organize for the implementation of planned activities and projects. On various occasions we continue to prepare for distribution CDs with information that can foster the learning process and the extracurricular activities.
We continued the tradition of issuing information brochures on the Foundation’s activities. They serve as business cards of the foundation to the public. By means of them we make our goals and opportunities for financial assistance known to the public. For the sake of transparency in our actions, we announce publicly every single lev that we spend from the funds of our organization. By publishing articles in specialized journals we additionally promote the goals of our foundation. In some of them we have permanent sections that allow us to spread information about the foundation to a large part of our target groups. Our cooperation with them is a good example of a mutually beneficial partnership.
3. About: Supporting the distribution of natural and scientific, technical and economic knowledge and information
Distributing knowledge is one of the major objectives of our organization because it can influence and include in the field of science and technology representatives of different social groups, especially teenagers. Nowadays this is both difficult and easy. It is easy because nowadays there are so many sources of information that we can use every day through the media and the Internet. What is difficult is how to find the appropriate form and use the information from these sources in an interesting and attractive way so that it can provoke interest and expand horizons, motivate you to try it yourself, or create something inspired by what you’ve read or the inventions of others.
Achieving this goal often involves complex actions. Our goal is to add something to the lessons and apart from the existing knowledge to provide new one that is most often related to the Bulgarian achievements of today and of the past. Some of our most dedicated and well-intentioned partners are the representatives of the National Polytechnic Museum. We help each other because our objectives are common. By carrying out different initiatives we aim to bring to the museum more young people and children and to introduce them to some of the achievements of the Bulgarian science and technology which are not always that popular as they deserve to be. Our activists have been involved in many of the theme nights, visiting exhibitions and celebrations of notable personalities that were organized there. We support the implementation of their educational programs. For seventeen years now we have been co-publishing the newspaper “Technitarche” which is the only publication of its kind that promotes science and technology among the younger generation.
Another way of spreading knowledge is through the press. We use the good attitude of publishers to this topic and our organization to find a way of reaching young readers. With the help of the magazines “Computer” and “Do it Yourself” which we created, we sought to provide information to young people and children who already have established interest in computers and technology that can now invent new things with their own hands. The magazines are accessible and understandable to all.
Last year we supported again the specialized column “Youth Forum” in the journal Science. It presented scientific papers of young scientists, students, doctoral students, information for youth conferences, competitions, projects, awards, essays and other works of winners of the “Eureka” competitions. This magazine together with the newspaper “Az buki” most widely and competently reflects the Foundation’s activities.
4. Participation in international educational, scientific and technical programs and projects and international youth scientific and technical cooperation
In the past few years we kept in touch with international contacts and sought new basis for common interests and program goals. Our most useful contacts are those within the European Union. After our EU accession we can participate in projects and programs supported financially by European funds. Our most active contacts are within the International Movement for Leisure Activities in Science and Technology (MILSET) and in particular with its European structure MILSET – Europe. This international organization stands closest in terms of goals and activities to ours. Foundation “Eureka” has been a member of the international movement for 21 years and each year it participates in projects organized by it. We continue to be the national coordinator of the Bulgarian participation in the biggest event of MILSET – Europe last year – the sixth European Science Day for Youth, which was held on April 29, 2010 and was devoted to biodiversity. Once again we organized the participation of Bulgarian students in the Fourth Scientific MILSET- Europe Photo Competition, providing an opportunity to young people and children to express themselves by means of scientific photography. The first prize of this prestigious photo contest for science went to the 28-year-old Bulgarian Georgi Vassilev. We appreciate our partnership with MILSET – Europe in providing support for the traditional Bulgarian participation in the international youth science fair. The 8th edition of the European Expo of Sciences took place in Moscow in the reporting year 2010. It was attended by over 300 young inventors from 30 countries, including Europe and beyond. They presented 150 research projects in the Russian capital. Bulgaria was represented by four winners of national competition “Young talents”.
We continue our joint activities with the Institute for Science and Research of the youth in Aragon – Zaragoza, Spain. For the ninth consecutive year the Foundation “Eureka” was invited to participate in the traditional international congress. The Foundation “Eureka” relies heavily on the established long-term cooperation with the 164 High School Miguel de Cervantes with Spanish profile in the preparation of the Bulgarian participants in the International Congress. Special committee approved 4 projects that were presented there.
We maintain our associate membership in the International Federation of Inventors’ Associations. Recent references and participation of young people, holders of patents, give rise to the hope that this membership will serve as basis for close cooperation in this area.
Making new international contacts, especially within the European Union, is very beneficial. The lifelong learning programs and those supporting the development of youth activities will increase and this will probably increase our own opportunities. We have already created our image as partners and this suggests further development of our activities. Our efforts in the future should be focused on creating long lasting partnerships, which would foster the mobility of young people from Bulgaria and their peers into other European countries. It is only then that we could really achieve fruitful scientific and technical youth cooperation.
5. Encouragement and support of business initiatives and economic activity among young people
Two years ago, the Council of the Foundation made the decision to close the program “Support of business initiatives” for an indefinite term. The program was stopped because there was very low demand on part of the young entrepreneurs and because of the relatively small resources that we could provide. There are no planned or developed projects for independent implementation that we could support. This business program can be activated in future.
6. About: Some activities related to our ideal goals and the place and role of our organization in developing cooperation with other organizations and institutions in Bulgaria
In the past few years our organization has been a convinced supporter of the partnership with other organizations and institutions. This is the policy of the European Union that we unreservedly accept and support. Our most extensive partnerships are with NGOs. We have lasting contacts, many joint activities and projects. An example of this may be our joint activities with the Union of Mathematicians in Bulgaria, the Union of Physicists in Bulgaria, the IF St. Cyril and Methodius, the Union of Scientists in Bulgaria, the Association of Agricultural Producers in Bulgaria, etc.
The Bulgarian Contributors’ Forum is one of the organizations that unite the efforts and ideas of many organizations trying to improve the conditions for philanthropy and collaboration in the implementation of national campaigns. As an organization we joined the efforts for making the right decisions and improving the interaction between NGOs and contributors.
This year we were once again invited by “Partners Expo” Ltd. and the regional beekeeping union in Pleven to participate in the prestigious international exhibition “Beekeeping” and we took part in the competition for most successful young beekeeper.
We have had a contract for joint activity with the Federation of Scientific Technical Unions for many years. In the past year we negotiated its updating on a working level. Hopefully this year the process will be finalized and it will open new opportunities corresponding to the new times and the new needs. We intend to develop together initiatives for working with students. The federation expresses willingness to work together with us and support student clubs for science and technology and the revival of some good traditions in their activities at local and national level.
In 2010 we cooperated successfully with the Association of Industrial Capital in Bulgaria in organizing the competition for best young manager and in the implementation of some activities under the program “Restriction and prevention of informal economy” that they won.
We try to expand our activities in developing lasting interest in science and skills for research at high schools and universities. We signed a cooperation agreement with the Training Center at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. Once again we want to express our willingness to participate in all initiatives that create better conditions for young scientists here and at the same time foster youth mobility in the field of science.
It is clear that there is scope for more and better joint initiatives and projects and in the coming years we will try to make use of the valuable contacts that we have made with many organizations and their representatives within the established networks which we are members of. We will try not only to keep the results achieved in the network of student clubs.
The Foundation maintains good business partnerships with government institutions and organizations. First among them is the Ministry of Education and Science and its departments for extracurricular activities. Traditionally, we organize joint events with the National Palace of Children. We make plans together, prepare new joint projects and expect good results. For us the National Palace of Children is the most appropriate partner for our future project for creating an interaction system between the clubs for science and technology among students.
As part of our partnerships with government institutions we have to mention all the work that we have done under the OPs. During the reporting year we finalized the report on the implementation of the project “Student Clubs for Science and Technology” under the Operational Programme “Human Resources”.
When making reports on our partnerships with some state institutions, we have to note the positive changes that took place in our cooperation with the National Patent Office.
During the reporting period no significant changes occurred in our interaction with the business representatives. We didn’t manage to convince them to support our cause or to provide scholarships for university and high-school students with outstanding and proven abilities in the field of science and technology. In 2010 we joined the first specialized network for corporate social responsibility in Bulgaria, established to seek positive synergies between the needs and the resources of society and business. For us this move was a great success. Hopefully this membership will give us a chance to communicate more successfully with the corporate sector in developing and implementing projects that are of common interest, providing support to causes related to the discovery and professional realization of talents in science and technology and the development of skills for workers and specialists related to the introduction of new technologies in the production process.
We are now part of the newly created information portal for active Bulgarian NGOs by means of which we have the additional opportunity to inform young people, to announce our initiatives and to seek new partners. This membership gives us the opportunity to be more easily recognized by other potential contributors who are looking for reliable organizations to implement their good intentions in the field of corporate social responsibility.
In the end we would like to make a review of our relationship with the media, which have always been our reliable partner and mediator with the community and its assessment of our achievements. The most significant support that we receive comes from the specialized media that are not so numerous in recent years. They closely monitor our activities and results and help us promote our achievements. Every activity that helped us expand our organization is important and effective but it could be even more effective if such partnerships incorporated more specific projects or initiatives that can achieve our common goals.
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As a result of the reported activities of the “Eureka” foundation in 2010 we can draw the conclusion that its objectives and tasks are consistently performed. The changes that occurred are the result of the changing conditions that demand new approaches. The organization has built a good public image and is ready to do everything necessary to achieve new results that will prove that the organization is of utmost importance for the young people and that its increasing role in society will make it more powerful, more meaningful and with a more modern image.