Report on the Performance of Evrika Foundation in Year 2016
In our work we were governed by the priorities outlined by the Council of Evrika Foundation, the changing requirements to activities in education and the work with children and young people, as well as the policies in those areas implemented by governmental institutions, the public requirements and the past experience of our organization. We followed the affirmed principles and approaches in the work for our mission accomplishment. We continued looking for the best combination of achieved results and reasonable funds utilization, openness in decisions making and the commitment of people meant to raise the capacity and the authority of our organization. The competitive principle continued to be a basic approach for assessment of projects that we engaged in, for choosing the best proposals submitted to us, and for the fair and objective evaluation of the children and youths who participated in the competitions and contests organized by us. We did not depart from those principles in our basic activities, and we did succeed with the available financial resource and the efforts and the intellect of us all. We preserved the good traditions, but also expanded our contacts and interactions with organizations and institutions allowing us to achieve our causes, to meet the upcoming challenges and to find the adequate ways and means to support the talents and the abilities of children and young people with interests and achievements in science, engineering and technologies.
- For getting scientific, technical and economic knowledge, skills and culture by the young generation, for supporting the education, qualification and requalification of young people with outstanding abilities in the fields of natural sciences, engineering and management.
The Talents Program is the largest in volume and scope among all the Foundation programs. Its creation and realization over the past years has served to organize the activities for support and stimulation in acquiring knowledge in the fields of natural sciences, engineering and technologies.
Our policy in this area is directed towards stimulation of undergraduates by provision of scholarships, support of young specialists and scientists in organizing youth science schools, participation in international forums and individual specializations. There is a rising tendency in the scholarships provision and awards part, unlike the organized events for the specialists and the ever faster decreasing group of the young scientists.
The scholarship program part involves determination of named scholarship winners of Evrika Foundation, the Foundation scholarship students having won medals in international secondary school Olympiads in mathematics, informatics, physics, chemistry and biology, and the target grants group of the Foundation scholarship students. The Talents Program requirements and Basic Rules are strictly observed, allowing for a selection according to the students performance in examinations, participation in scientific projects implementation, innovative products creation and the first scientific publications as a result of their scientific research. As many as 48 undergraduates from 17 high schools in the country were admitted to interviews in the final round of competitions for the 10 named scholarships and the Huawei ICT scholarships, which is a proof of the strong competition between students with high grades and significant results in national and international competitions, Olympiads, scientific conferences and other forms of performance. Sixteen students were selected and approved among them.
The tradition of secondary school teams in mathematics, informatics, physics, chemistry and biology to return from international Olympiads with numerous medals and awards was kept in 2016 too. Those of them who continued their education in our country became the next scholarship students of the Foundation.
One direction of the Talents Program offers an opportunity for support of individual projects of students and young scientists to participate in international scientific events and short-term specializations.
- For stimulation of the youth scientific and technical research, inventive and innovative activity.
One of the basic goals set when establishing the Foundation was not only to discover but to provide good stimuli for encouraging the development of creative thinking, research and solutions in the fields of science, engineering and technologies. Over the past years, including the last one, we were constantly searching for the best possible approaches for the set objectives and we expanded the areas and the forms and adapted them to the changing conditions and the inner needs of the young people. For some activities we already have established traditions, while for others we apply new searches, forms of influence and new partners for achieving all these goals.
For that purpose years ago we signed an agreement with the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (BAS) and the Union of Scientists in Bulgaria for the development of this initiative, that contained joint activities of the three organizations among teenage students and we called it “The Road to Science for Children and Youths”. We use any single event of the Foundation to meet the students with Bulgarian scientists in order to get acquainted with interesting and curious achievements of Bulgarian and world science.
In our years-long experience and practice we became convinced that competitions have proved to be the most attractive and interesting to the students. What continues to enjoy the greatest attention among them is the competition “Cosmos – Present and Future of Humanity”. We organized its ХVIII edition under the patronage of the first Bulgarian astronaut, general Georgi Ivanov, Vice Chairman of Evrika Foundation. It offers wide opportunities for performance to many children – from explorers and experimenters to painters and poets. The competition has attracted participants from many and different schools in the country, since it gives scope to their imagination and the expression of their gifts and talents. Cosmos is a subject that has stirred people since millennia and the knowledge about it is an important stage in the development of mankind. We are led by the understanding that attracting young people to the development of Space-related projects is a winning and very valuable strategy. In 2016 as many as 1311 students aged from 8 to 18 years participated in that competition by 1272 projects grouped in five thematic directions. There does exist a continuity and it is hardly a surprise that some schools and clubs are frequently among the award winners. The groups formed with the regional observatories, especially those in the cities of Varna and Stara Zagora, are very active in this respect. Fifteen students at the age of 14 to 18 years with very serious schooling and profound knowledge took part in the thematic direction “Ideas for scientific and technical experiments”. The thematic direction “Models of space objects” also proved very attractive for children and youths with skilful hands and rich imagination. Forty three scale models of 98 students were presented. By tradition, graphic design works created by means of a computer attract great interest. We observe a tendency for increasingly good quality of the created projects. The computer drawings and collages are becoming more numerous and significant as achievements. 253 participants presented their own works. The direction for literary works was joined by 98 young authors with 121 literary creations of their own. 847 students from 105 schools and other extra-school units presented their own works. Upon the awards conferment, the participants in the competition met its patron, general Georgi Ivanov, and his story about the flight and the preparation for it with unabated interest. Yet another one of his messages was that good results can only be achieved by profound knowledge, hard work and persistence.
If the competition about Space was so far the most large-scale and diversified, we do hope the one with the interesting title “My 3D World” to become extremely attractive. With some good partners we manage to find yet other interesting subjects for contest. Some of the competitions are national, but there are plenty of others that represent stages of international events. The most opportunities for participation and expression of the creative potential in events and competitions are those organized by the International Movement for Leisure Activities in Science and Technology (MILSET). We do our best to expand the scope of the European Youth Day of Science. For yet another time Bulgarian representatives took part in the 10th International Science Photography Competition titled “When Art Meets Science”. In 2016, 782 projects from 41 countries competed in this competition of MILSET – Europe. For yet another time there were Bulgarian participants awarded by prizes. We are proud that Bulgaria is still the only country having won the big prize two times.
During the past year we participated for yet another time in the organization and running of the contest “Young Talents”. For the next year in a row we organized the participation of award winners for applicable projects at the European Youth Science Exposition ESE’2016 of MILSET in Toulouse, France. Like in the previous years, the most numerous are the competitions and contests held jointly with the National Children’s Palace. We are trying to cover as many as possible problematic areas of the natural sciences and we stretch from ecology to modelism. All of them are conformed to the age specifics of children, ensuring the expression of their knowledge and ideas for new solutions.
We organized the national competitions in science, engineering and technologies in the village of Kranevo during June 16-20, 2016, for 5th to 8th grade students. 110 students from different towns and villages took part in them. At the National competitions in science, engineering and technologies for 9th to 12th grade students, after a preliminary selection 98 participants were admitted to public defense of their projects. They showed good knowledge, skills and competence in such fields as program products development, electronic appliances, devices and communication means, original solutions in fields of ecology, chemistry, biology, power efficiency, physics and astronomy. An Exposition was organized during the time of the scientific and technology competitions, offering demonstrations of the students’ creativity. There is a definite interest among children and students in ecologically directed occupations and competitions. That is why we take it as natural that there is a standing interest in the National Secondary School Competition “Nature – Our Home”. Its successive edition was joined by 140 students. The interest in what is happening in nature and the protection of rare animal and plant species found expression in “Srebarna 2016” International Students Ecological Forum. Over 5 000 students-environmentalists have taken part in various organized events over the period 1990-2016. Many of them have chosen ecology for their future profession, and others have stayed convinced protectors of nature. During the past year, over 600 participants from 22 provinces of the country presented themselves at the ecological forum “Srebarna 2016”, and 60 students competed with 16 projects at the National Competition for Student Ecological Projects with international participation over the past few years.
For five years now we realize a useful and efficient cooperation with “Vale” Computer School in Haskovo city. Over the past year for yet another time we were co-organizers and realized the preparation and conducting of the “Creativity without Borders” International Competition for Computer Drawing and Collage. The competition is very successful and it is expanding in more cities and villages not only in Bulgaria but in other countries as well, such as the neighboring Balkan countries, Russia and Ukraine. In the contest’s seventh edition participated 1032 drawings by 552 participants, 692 collages by 382 participants and 301 works from foreign countries by 151 participants.
Our partnership with the United Children’s Complex in Kyustendil city and the Bulgarian Federation of Airmodelism continued in 2016 as well. Over the past years we jointly organized a Student Competition for Non-standard Aircraft “ICARUS 2016 Creative Challenge”. Over 30 contestants took part in the competition and demonstrated attractive flying machines of any type created by them. The airplanes, rockets and other flying machines attracted the interest of both young and grown up people. Within the air show frame the first drone racing for the country was held along a specially prepared route.
As we have established many times, the competitions and contests are available for many children and students and at the same time they are attractive and offer opportunities to influence the direction of their interests related to modern technologies, but also to the freedom in seeking solutions, creativity and expression of their talents, that guarantee a future development. Over the past years, Evrika Foundation proved to be a reliable and desired partner in organizing the National Festival “Science on Stage”. The competition’s sixth edition was held in October 2016 in the town of Sevlievo. In 2016 we restored our partnership with United Children’s Complex – Blagoevgrad for holding the students’ scientific holiday titled “ About our Bread”. The initiative has years-long history. It was intended to draw in unconventional ways the attention of children to everything connected with the bread creation – from the products to the technologies, all through the prism of the national traditions, the craft and knowledge on growing the crops, their processing and use. Over 1 200 children from the whole country demonstrated what they have learned and their newly acquired skills in the various competitions for scientific developments, essays, drawings, applied art, poems, short stories, stage performance of rituals, dramatizations, dancing and songs, related to bread in the Bulgarian traditions and culture.
In the area of physics, there is a student scientific session held for many years now during the National Conference on Issues of the Education in Physics. During the past year the subject of the event was “Physics in my World” and in it participated 38 school and college students with 32 scientific reports and presentations. Their authors were representatives of 14 schools and observatories from 13 towns of the country. In the specialists’ opinion, their quality is becoming higher and higher and a large part of them are at the level of small project of a research nature. The idea of students from the higher school grades going to the younger students and explaining physics to them in a comprehensive and attractive manner, caused a really great interest.
We should not leave out one of the successful initiatives – the interschool scientific and technical conference for students from the language schools in Sofia. We held the subsequent one last year and in it 37 students from 8th to 12th grade presented 19 projects, out of which a special jury chose the projects that represented the Bulgarian students at the Youth Scientific Congress in Zaragoza, Spain. The realization of that project received excellent responses, especially among the school circles and the administrations of the language schools in Sofia. This showed that the initiative should be continued and we should try to establish more intra-school conferences so that more students could find expression of their interests in natural sciences, and so that the teachers would find greater motivation to help them in preparing and defending their projects. Moreover, it proved very useful to present scientific theses out of the learned material and to make attractive presentations with experiments performed by the students in which they invest their own contribution.
We have good traditions in the work among school students, and the direction to be followed is related to the rapid change in the organizational contents and forms that would make it more attractive for this age group.
We should also inform about the work we do in the universities. In 2016 we managed to change the trend and we can declare with satisfaction that the year was very successful. The main reason is the closer cooperation with many departments and units of the Bulgarian universities. We signed contracts for joint activity and agreed on specific activities and partnerships in the realization of programs and projects for raising the students’ knowledge, qualification and further development of young scientists in the fields of computer design, machine engineering and industrial technologies. The first steps in the realization of those initiatives are our joint activity in organizing and conducting “My 3D World” National Competition and our joint project for organizing the Student Scientific Conference at the Technical University in Sofia. We have excellent partnership with other universities and expressed readiness for joint work and serious support by their management. We can also realize useful joint activity in preparing teachers doing extra-class work.
We keep on a successful cooperation with the management of the Department of Physics and Engineering Technologies of Plovdiv University “P. Hilendarski”. For yet another year, in November 2016 we held the fifth edition of the National Student Scientific Session in Physics and Engineering Technologies. The scientific forum was attended by 200 students, PhD students, young scientists and business representatives, but there was also considerable participation of secondary school students. The participants presented projects scientific research they are doing, and discussed innovative ideas and actual problems in different scientific spheres. A large part of the scientific forum events were directed to the younger generation. The secondary school competitions for the “Evrika” scientific project and for drawings and collages titled “Science in the World around us” were aimed to stimulate the interest to physics and engineering technologies of young amateurs in natural sciences. The students participated with scientific issues of their choice and presented their ideas of the world and science by drawings and collages.
During the accounting year we organized and conducted jointly with “Angel Kanchev” University of Ruse a National Student Olympiad in Mathematics. We prepared and conducted this contest together with the Union of Mathematicians and the University hosts. Over 150 students from 30 high school departments participated in the competition.
In September 2016 we held jointly with the Scientific and Technical Union of Construction in Bulgaria a Student Session within the frame of International Conference “Design and Construction of Buildings and Facilities” DCB’2016. The thematic sections of the session were presented by interesting developments in the fields of architecture, building structures, engineering installations, engineering geology, landscape architecture, legal aspects of construction, power efficiency.
During the past year we continued our useful cooperation with the Union of Inventors in Bulgaria. We became co-organizers of the Seventh Exposition of Inventions, Technologies and Innovations, ITI’2016, as well as in the attempt at marketing their intellectual products. The exposition turned into a very useful meeting of more than 80 scientists, entrepreneurs, innovation brokers, inventors, students and patent specialists with interests and achievements in the development of this activity as a supreme form of creativity.
During the past year we conducted jointly with other partnership organizations a competition and exposition “Young Technical Creative Exhibition” in the town of Gorna Oryahovitsa. During October 27-29, 2016 the town turned into a center of scientific thinking and the ideas of young people about the future. The exposition turned into a kind of workshop for ideas and exchange of experience and information. 48 teams with 152 participants presented developments in the fields of transport, mechatronics, electronics, robotics, optics, construction and architecture. The exposition attracted participation from many professional high schools in the country, technical universities, BAS institutes, youth teams and innovation companies.
The traditional competitions for the “Evrika” awards for achievements in science, for young manager, inventor and farmer, continue to be a significant part of our annual activity. They are held for many years now – for the twenty seventh time for manager, for the twenty sixth time for inventor and farmer, and for the twenty first successive years for achievements in science. They have public recognition and are valued by the attention of governmental and public organizations and institutions. We showed to the public the heroes of the present for yet another time. These are people not only of today, but of tomorrow. They are the example that we would like to be followed by other young people in the vitally important areas of science and production. They are the model that shows that success comes with good education, the endeavor to follow new paths and not to be afraid to cross the borders of the dreams so they can become reality. It is for those succeeding, intelligent and creative persons that we should keep on taking care and giving support.
3. For supporting the distribution of natural science, technological and economic knowledge and information
One of the basic aims of the program “Information, publications, events” is the promotion of knowledge in the fields of natural science, technology and economics. Through it we support the projects and initiatives related to them. We have preserved some traditional forms for the promotion of knowledge, mostly directed to the children.
One of the forms for promoting knowledge on science and technology among children is the years-long practice of joint activity with the National Polytechnical Museum. The expositions and temporary exhibitions in it are continually renewed. The educational programs increased, the demonstrations were diversified, which attracts increasing number of children. “Family Saturdays” with different subjects allowing practical activity were adopted as a new form. We have our own contribution in the organization of those events. We directed some funds for starting yet another activity. The beginning is already laid for an educational program and equipment of a Construction Club aimed at the formation of interests in children so as to influence their attraction to professions that the country needs badly. We still hold many of our events at the museum. In this way the children and youths not only participate in scientific and technical events, but they also view the expositions from which they learn a lot about the history of Bulgarian science and technology and their creators, as well as about the Bulgarian contribution to world science and technology, thus forming national self-esteem and pride with the achievements.
For twenty one years now we are jointly publishing the newspaper for children called “Tehnitarche”. It is edited by the museum curators and is offered free of charge to the children visiting the museum. The newspaper’s individual issues are dedicated to a different topic and special care is taken to bind the topic to the school educational programs. We can be satisfied as the creators of a unique publication. It is the only museum publication intended for children and we have to preserve it.
We use the visits of Bulgarian scientists to the schools as another opportunity to promote knowledge. This activity is a part of the joint program “The Road of Children and Youths to Science”, around which we joined our efforts with the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and the Union of Scientists in Bulgaria. The mass media are very useful for the realization of this activity – with their help we organize the presentation of the latest technologies and youth creativity. The contribution of “Science” magazine and its column “Forum of the Young” are particularly significant in this respect. The publications of students from secondary schools and of college students help for the creation of scientific culture and stimulate the youths’ interest in scientific research, innovations and the scientific teacher’s career. The publications dedicated to the success of young people in Olympiads, conferences, competitions and scientific forums create further motivation for their career-guidance. In 2016 “Science” magazine published in its six issues: 6 scientific publications of young scientists, students, PhD students and teenage students who performed mostly in activities of the Foundation; 8 reviews about youth scientific conferences, competitions and projects with participation of the Foundation; 3 essays from the competition for named scholarships; 10 other articles of teenage students, college students, teachers, professors and scientific tutors who took part in competitions organized by us.
4. Participation in international educational, natural science and technical programs and projects and international youth scientific and technical cooperation
Over the past years, youth scientific and technical cooperation acquired significant importance. This applies to our organization as well. It is very important for children and young people to make direct contacts in schools and universities and thus to prepare for the future of international science and production. This particularly relates to contacts and interaction with the European Union countries and the youth organizations operating there, the programs supported by the European institutions and the opportunities for developing cooperation with similar to our organizations. Over the years, we have gained experience in a bilateral and multilateral partnership. A little more than 25 years ago, we became a full member of the largest youth organization for science and technology in leisure time – MILLSET. We have been a member of it until now and we are still the only Bulgarian organization. During the accounting year, we organized the participation of award-winning projects at the European Youth Exposition ESE’2016 at MILLSET, Europe, in Toulouse, France. The Bulgarian students again brought awards from the international events of MILLSET. In 2016 honorary diplomas were conferred to our four participants at the ESE-2016 European Science Fair and to the four pupils who took part in the International Congress of Young Researchers in Zaragoza, Spain. A former Foundation scholarship student won a bronze medal at the International Photo Competition “Open Your Eyes for Science”. There was mass participation of representatives from many European countries at the next (Twelfth) European Day of Science for Youths organized by MILSET, held on March 17th 2016. It was dedicated to science in sports.
Over the years we created a very useful cooperation with one of the MILSET organizations – Institute for Science and Youth Research from Aragon, Zaragoza, Spain. In 2016 we managed to send a representative Bulgarian delegation with the participation of the award winners at the Third Interschool Conference of the Language High Schools. What we have succeeded to accomplish in the area of youth scientific and technical cooperation is by no means little, but there is potential for other opportunities as well, especially with regard to the summer camps and expeditions within the frame of MILSET initiatives.
5. On some activities related to our non-profit goals; on the place and role of our organization in developing the cooperation with other organizations and institutions in our country
When analyzing the results of our years-long work, we have established that a considerable part of the good achievements of the Foundation were the result of the cooperation and the united actions with other organizations – state institutions and units, business representatives, non-governmental organizations and media. This became our policy and we continued to follow it during the past year too. Already we have established sustainable and useful partnerships, many of which are bound by contracts and agreements. Our most successful competitions, events and initiatives were accomplished in cooperation. In 2016 we had partnership with many of them: Union of Scientists in Bulgaria, Union of Mathematicians in Bulgaria, Union of Physicists in Bulgaria, National Network for Children, Technical University – Sofia, Paisii Hilendarski University – Plovdiv, etc.
We have good traditions of work among students. The secondary school conferences, Olympiads and competitions have involved many participants. We managed to activate our joint activities among college students, which can be observed in the organized conferences and some Olympiads. We created conditions for the tendency to be enhanced.
Over the past years we built a good system of work with some of the science and technology unions. The time has come to look for new forms of work among secondary school and college students, especially in areas where education in patent activity is needed, but is absent. Probably we have to find them together and to make practical steps in teaching them how to protect their interests in the sphere of programming where no patent protection is available.
The non-governmental organizations have an abiding attitude for joint efforts in solving common problems and activities development. For years now we are members of Bulgarian Donation Forum (BDF) where representatives of these organizations and companies meet with well operating programs of social responsibility. Within the frames of this organization we participated in the campaign “Keen on Good Causes” dedicated to the European Day of Foundations and Donors, as the first step in realizing the Strategy for support of development of civil organizations in the Republic of Bulgaria. It is the Foundation’s policy to preserve the already created partnerships with associations and professional organizations and to look for new ones if this is useful to the young people.
We can determine our participation in the National Network for Children as useful. We have been its full member over the past years. The Network is an alliance of 137 civil organizations and followers working with and for children and families all over the country. We participate in the specialized operational group “Education”. For us, the communication with other organizations within the network means realized exchange of good practices.
Although being an alliance of the business representatives, the Association of Industrial Capital in Bulgaria is also a non-governmental organization, which is why we would like to mention some good facts about it. We maintain very good relationships with the organization. They are out partners when we try to promote young managers. We have relied on them and we shall continue to do it in the future.
As a recognition of the authority and the usefulness of our accomplished work over the past 27 years, we accepted the invitation and became co-founders of Cluster “Sofia – City of Knowledge” as a volunteer association of leading scientists, R&D and educational organizations and companies from Sofia, interested in joint activity and cooperation in economics, based on knowledge, mostly in informatics, ICT and creative industries. We are already working on realizing the first steps of the Cluster initiative for elaboration of a project on the institutional and organizational structure of the Cluster.
During the accounting year we can report a useful interaction with the governmental institutions and organizations. With some of them we have years-long practice and good results. We continue to point out as a good example our cooperation with the National Palace of Children as the basic methodological leader for extra-class school activities, particularly those in science and technology. We think this can be mentioned as a useful practice with excellent results. We have been showing for years now, based on our common views, how the mechanisms for joint actions can be created. For yet another time we should express our gratitude and satisfaction with our joint work with the Science Head Office in Ministry of Education and Science. They have an attitude of trust and readiness in searching and finding good management solutions to help the participation of talented students in international science and technology events, as well as the financial support for participation of Bulgarian representatives in international youth expositions and competitions.
We also manage to achieve synergy with the National Patent Office with respect to our work in support of innovation among young people. It is not a single time that they have helped us organize the national competition for young inventors and we do hope this will continue in the future.
We have good contacts and results with the business as well. We continue to implement the five-year contract with Huawei Technologies Bulgaria EOOD for the annual provision of ten scholarships for students studying at Bulgarian universities in the specialties of telecommunication engineering and technologies, computer technologies and informatics. As a good example of interaction with the business we should acknowledge the greatest sponsor – M+S Hydraulics AD, Kazanlak. Thanks to their active help we managed to realize a large part of our initiatives. The time has come for us to do our best and use our close contacts with the universities in order to attract students to the machine building profession, including a career in our homeland companies, and first of all those of our donors. Their financial support is securing scholarships to many students. All these facts come to show that there are donation attitudes formed within business circles. We would like to believe that as a result of the economic environment improvement we shall be able to convince them in the usefulness of activities promoting the expression of talents of children and young people who are to become the backbone of new productions and technologies in Bulgarian economy. Only then education will not only be a priority in words, but will give real practical results.
Although briefly, we should also mention the positive interaction with the media, since we already did this earlier in the report on other occasions. During all the time of the Foundation existence the media have supported our work for the realization of public causes among the young people. For understandable reasons, this was most frequently done by the specialized publications in science and technology and those of professional nature. This refers also to specialized electronic media broadcasts. Sometimes the publications and the broadcasts play the role of a bridge to other organizations and youth formations. They promote our image of an organization with a marked priority in education. We should mention yet another time that they helped us make our report before the society and how we utilize the donated funds. We also acknowledge with thanks those of them that covered the events we organized.
♦ ♦ ♦
We presented the report on our performance in 2016 before the Council of Evrika Foundation and before the entire Bulgarian public. It reveals that we fulfill successfully the strategic goals and tasks set upon the organization establishment and its subsequent development in compliance with the changes that occurred as a result of the social and economic development of the country and the pursuits of children and young people. Our achievement is not a limit but a successive step forward and it makes us confident that we can succeed together in our good work for the sake of the capable and talented young Bulgarians. Evrika Foundation has won a worthy place among the organizations working in the public interest, and the new tasks and activities should stimulate the development of the organization itself. The new time demands new objectives, high criteria and suitable conditions allowing us to feel satisfied in working for a cause with a future.