EUREKA FOUNDATION ACTIVITY REPORT 2021

 

            To achieve the Foundation’s non-profit objectives

            With this report for 2021, we continue to fill with content the history of the Foundation that we are all writing together.

We could not influence young people and children with our activities if we did not focus on shaping interests and attitudes towards new techniques and technologies. These interests will make motivating among them the needs to learn, to find 1 even themselves ways and means to solve problems. With this report we make an analysis without which the ideas for renewal could not come.

The Eureka Foundation’s Fellowship Program is still one of our most significant activities and a reliable mechanism for expression. It brings prestige to the Foundation and is allocated a significant portion of our budget.  These funds are provided by donations and funds from the management of own property. We selected the fellows by adhering to established approaches and criteria.  38 students from 19 universities in the country were admitted for the final stage interview.

The second group among the scholarship winners was selected from the winners of the International Olympiads, medal winners

In 2021, despite the exceptional conditions and holding most of the Olympiads on-line, the tradition of high school teams in mathematics, computer science, physics, chemistry and biology winning many medals and awards was maintained.

In the 62nd International Mathematics Olympiad the Bulgarian team won one gold, three silver and two bronze medals in a competition with participants from 108 countries. Over 350 students from nearly 90 countries participated in the 33rd International Computer Science Olympiad. The Bulgarians won three silver medals. Bulgarian students also won four medals at the 53rd International Chemistry Olympiad. Our high school students measured their knowledge with 316 students from 79 countries and were awarded a silver medal by Pavel Nikolov from Academic Kiril Popov” in the city of Plovdiv and bronze medals by Teodor Maslyankov and Georgi Nedyalkov, in the International Biology Olympiad, Bulgarian students won 2 gold, 1 silver and 1 bronze medal.

During the year, our representatives were again entitled to receive scholarships from the Eureka Foundation as laureates and prize winners of the International Olympiads for secondary school students.

In 2021 as well, despite the exceptional conditions and conducting most of the Olympiads online, the tradition of high school teams in mathematics, computer science, physics, chemistry and biology winning many medals and awards was maintained. Representatives from 108 countries participated in the 62nd International Mathematics Olympiad. The Bulgarian team won one gold, three silver and two bronze medals. The gold medal went to the scholarship holder of the Eureka Foundation Borislav Kirilov from the First Private Higher School of Mathematics in the city of Sofia. The silver medal was won by our new scholarship holder Ilias Noman from the Sofia City School of Mathematics “Paisiy Hilendarski”, Stefan Hadzhistoykov, who is already a student in Switzerland and Diyan Dimitrov, who has been enrolled for his studies in Oxford. The bronze medals were won by our long-time scholarship winners Martin Kopchev from the Plovdiv City Higher School of Mathematics – Gabrovo and Kyung Viet Do, who graduated in 2021 from the Sofia City School of Mathematics “Paisiy Hilendarski”. At the 38th Balkan Mathematics Olympiad Bulgarian high school students performed brilliantly and won 6 medals. The race was held remotely with virtual host Cyprus. In competition with 71 students from 17 countries, the Bulgarians won 1 gold, 2 silver and 3 bronze medals. The absolute champion and gold medallist of this Olympiad with 40 out of 40 possible points was the scholarship holder of the Foundation Borislav Kirilov from the First Private Higher School of Mathematics in the city of Sofia. Bulgaria won second place in the team ranking of the 25th edition of the Balkan Youth Mathematics Olympiad. Bulgarian participants won 1 gold, 2 silver and 3 bronze medals. Three bronze medals for Bulgaria were won by the girls from the Sofia City School of Mathematics and the First Private Higher School of Mathematics in the tenth edition of the European Mathematics Olympiad for Girls.

Over 350 students from nearly 90 countries participated in the 33rd International Computer Science Olympiad. Three silver medals were won by the Foundation’s scholarship holders. For all the editions of the International Informatics Olympiad in its 33-year history, the native computer scientists have won 115 medals – 27 gold, 49 silver and 39 bronze awards, which puts our country in fifth place in the total number of medals. Bulgarian students won 7 medals at the European Youth Informatics Olympiad eJOI for students up to grade 9. The 51st International Physics Olympiad was held in Lithuania. Bulgarian students won 2 silver and 3 bronze medals. The best performers were the scholarship holders of the Eureka Foundation Alexander Prodanov from the First Plovdiv Higher School of Mathematcis – Kazanlak and Vassil Nikolov, already a student at the Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”. Our new scholarship holder Yavor Yordanov from the National Higher School of Mathematcis and Natural Sciences in the city of Sofia won a bronze medal and the other two bronze medal winners Alexander Iliev and Viktor Vassilev are already students in Munich, Germany.

 

The 5th European Physics Olympiad (EUPhO) was also held in June 2021.  For the second year in a row, the competition was held online and again, instead of a real experiment, students used software to simulate data for the experimental round problems. Our scholarship holders won 2 gold and 3 bronze medals. The Bulgarian participants in the 34th International Tournament of Young Physicists performed well. Bulgarian students won 5 medals at the Astronomy Olympiad of St. Petersburg University. The Bulgarian students won four medals at the 53rd International Chemistry Olympiad. Our high school students competed against 316 students from 79 countries. This race was also conducted remotely. The silver medal for Bulgaria was awarded to the scholarship holder of the Eureka Foundation – Pavel Nikolov from the Higher School of Mathematcis “Academic Kiril Popov” in the city of Plovdiv. Bronze awards were given to our previous scholarship recipients Theodore Maslyankov – already a student at Cambridge, Georgi Nedyalkov – a student at Oxford and the Foundation’s new scholarship recipient Samuel Petkov – a twelfth grader of the Sofia City Higher School of Mathematics “P. Hilendarski”. One silver and two bronze medals were won by Bulgarian students at the 55th Mendeleev Olympiad in Chemistry in competition with over 100 participants from more than 25 countries.

In July 2021, the International Biology Olympiad was held under the name IBO Challenge 2021 with Lisbon, Portugal as the virtual host. In fierce competition with representatives from over 75 countries, Bulgarian students won 2 gold, 1 silver and 1 bronze medals. Our new scholarship holders Borislav Stoyanov from the 125 Secondary School in the city of Sofia and Peter Zhotev – Sofia City School of Mathematics won gold. The silver was won by our previous scholarship recipient Victor Guilin, who is now a student in the Netherlands, and the bronze went to our new scholarship recipient Lyuboslav Stefanov. Both Bulgarian teams won medals (one silver and one bronze) at the European Science Olympiad. 40 teams from 19 countries participated.

Our balance for the 2021/2022 school year shows that the Eureka Foundation has 45 scholarship recipients, including: 17 will receive named scholarships; 4 students and pupils will receive scholarships; 9 students and pupils, winners of gold medals from international secondary school Olympiads; 13 students and pupils, winners of bronze medals from international secondary school Olympiads.

Another multi-year project we have carried out over the years is the Students’ Institute of Mathematics and information sciences (MATRI).  For twenty-one years, the Students’ Institute of Mathematics and information sciences has been working to discover and encourage the creative scientific potential of Bulgarian students in the field of mathematics, information sciences and information technology. In 2021, the Students’ Institute of Mathematics and information sciences (MATRI) successfully held its traditional sessions – the Student Conference and Student Section of the Spring Conference of the Union of Mathematicians in Bulgaria, as well as a summer research school with international participation. The Institute of Mathematics and Informatics of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, St. Cyril and Methodius” and the Union of Mathematicians in Bulgaria /UMB/ as a long-term program for the work of famous Bulgarian scientists with secondary school students with outstanding abilities in the field of mathematics and informatics. Since its inception, it has established itself as a prestigious and desirable national centre. This is a model for other areas of science where efforts can be joined to support the first steps in science of future researchers.     Forty (40) projects were received for the national conference – 8 in mathematics and 32 in information sciences and information technologies. Their authors are 48 students from grades 7 to 12 from 12 cities in the country. Indicative of the success of the graduates of the Students’ Institute of Mathematics and information sciences (MATRI) is their evaluation in competition with their peers from other countries:

  • 10 alumni rank among the “Top 5” student-researchers of the RSI – the Summer Research School of the Massachusetts University of Technology.
  • 5 alumni have Intel ISEF awards in the last two years;
  • 6 alumni have received EUCYS awards in the last four years;
  • 15% of participants were accepted to Ivy Ledgue, MIT and Oxbridge.

We follow the new current goals related to digitalization and its penetration in the education of children and young people. At home, we have achieved good results in attracting more students into the creative process. There has already been an increased use of computer simulations to investigate mathematical and other problems. It makes us happy that inter-disciplinary projects are no longer a rarity because the most important achievements in science lately are a result of precisely such developments. The new education policy in our country also has notable achievements. There are many clubs in schools aligned with the ideas and achievements of STEM education, including the ones we created. And they have continued their work successfully over the past year.

The new projects will be part of the implementation of the long-term policy of Eureka Foundation to involve children and young people in activities related to the current needs to prepare them for the challenges of the new times – digitalization in all spheres of public life and preparing them for future realization in the field of new technologies. The project “Extracurricular work in mathematics – distance learning” was implemented in cooperation with the Union of Mathematicians in Bulgaria. We cannot expect to influence young people and children with our activities if we do not focus on shaping interests and attitudes towards new techniques and technologies. These interests will make the needs to learn motivating, to find themselves ways and means to solve problems.

Stimulating creativity has become a very important goal among our activities in the last year. The advent of new technologies in training and production requires new capabilities and tools, and that is why we strive for visible excellence in our work. Only with a continuous renewal of means, and content will we also influence the new attitude towards science and technology.

This is why we mostly seek this in the organization and holding of various competitions.

They provide opportunities for individual participation with projects that can be carried out individually and in small teams. Only in the competition “Space – present and future of humanity participated 1199 students from 8 to 18 years with 1167 projects in five thematic areas.

Another large group of national events-competitions are those organized together with the National Palace of Children. By working together, we are successfully implementing our policy of preparing children and students through extracurricular forms of science and technology.

National competitions in science and technology were also held in Kranevo with students from grades 8 to 12. In 2021 more than 400 participants took part in the International Environmental Forum “Silver 2021”. In the framework of this international event, the competition “Planet Earth – A Priceless Gift” took place. There, the participants presented original authors’ ideas, personal research aimed at solving specific environmental problems, an original way of thinking and an up-to-date civic stance on public matters of regional and national importance directed towards the conservation of nature and the natural habitat of man, studying and conserving bio-diversity and the use of new energy sources. Some of the projects were aimed at studying and preserving the unique ornithological natural wealth of the Srebarna reserve. We will also add the National Student Competition “Nature – Our Home”. More than 350 students participated.

For another year we held together with Computer School “Vale” from Haskovo the large-scale international competition “Creativity without Borders”. For the past eight years, it has been held under the patronage of Bulgarian Commissioner Maria Gabriel and is included in the International Youth Goose programme. We received 610 drawings, 420 collages and 112 works from abroad.

Another large group of national events-competitions are those organized together with the National Palace of Children. By working together, we are successfully implementing our policy of preparing children and students through extracurricular forms of science and technology.

National competitions in science and technology were also held in Kranevo with students from grades 8 to 12. In 2021 more than 400 participants took part in the International Environmental Forum “Silver 2021”. In the framework of this international event, the competition “Planet Earth – A Priceless Gift” took place. There, the participants presented original authors’ ideas, personal research aimed at solving specific environmental problems, an original way of thinking and an up-to-date civic stance on public matters of regional and national importance directed towards the conservation of nature and the natural habitat of man, studying and conserving bio diversity and the use of new energy sources. Some of the projects were aimed at studying and preserving the unique ornithological natural wealth of the Srebarna reserve. We will also add the National Student Competition “Nature – Our Home”. More than 350 students participated.

For another year we held together with Computer School “Vale” from Haskovo the large-scale international competition “Creativity without Borders”. For the past eight years, it has been held under the patronage of Bulgarian Commissioner Maria Gabriel and is included in the International Youth Goose programme. We received 610 drawings, 420 collages and 112 works from abroad.

Another multi-year project we have carried out over the years is the Students’ Institute of Mathematics and information sciences (MATRI).  For twenty-one years, the Students’ Institute of Mathematics and information sciences has been working to discover and encourage the creative scientific potential of Bulgarian students in the field of mathematics, information sciences and information technology. Regardless of the COVID Pandemics in 2021, the Students’ Institute of Mathematics and information sciences (MATRI) successfully held its traditional sessions – the Student Conference and Student Section of the Spring Conference of the Union of Mathematicians in Bulgaria, as well as a summer research school with international participation. The Institute of Mathematics and Informatics of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, St. Cyril and Methodius” and the Union of Mathematicians in Bulgaria /UMB/ as a long-term program for the work of famous Bulgarian scientists with secondary school students with outstanding abilities in the field of mathematics and informatics.  It has established itself as a prestigious and desirable national centre. This is a model for other areas of science where efforts can be joined to support the first steps in science of future researchers.  The Twenty-first Teachers’ Institute Student Conference was held online at Forty projects were received – 8 in mathematics and 32 in computer science and information technology. Their authors are 48 students from grades 7 to 12 from 12 cities in the country

The authors of 4 projects in mathematics and 12 projects in information sciences received certificates of excellence from this conference, which opened doors for them to further events.

The programme for the year of the Students’ Institute of Mathematics and information sciences (MATRI) was implemented almost entirely, but with a large share of distance forms. The Students Institute’s other major event was the Student Section of the 50th Higher School of Mathematics in the city of Sofia Spring Conference, also held online in May, which was attended by students in grades 8 through 12 from every school in the state. They developed projects in mathematics, information sciences or information technology on topics of their choice, individually or in co-authorship, independently or under the guidance of a supervisor or consultant.  The authors of the top-ranked papers, who were not in grade 12, received an invitation to participate in the Twenty-first Summer Research School with International Participation (25 July – 14 August 2021). In mathematics, 6 projects of student teams were awarded with diplomas for excellent performance and a medal. Paisiy Hilendarski University recognized as excellent the competitive assessments of the twelfth graders who received diplomas for excellent and very good performance when applying to the Faculty of Mathematics and information sciences for the academic year 2021/2022.

During its twenty years of existence, the Students’ Institute of Mathematics and information sciences (MATRI) has managed to form a wide alumni network, with many young researchers and ICT specialists currently studying and graduating from top research universities /MIT, Princeton, Oxford, MGU, Harvard, etc./. Many of them are now returning as mentors, continuing to support the mission of the institute and other internationally renowned research. The programme for the year of the Students’ Institute of Mathematics and information sciences (MATRI) was implemented almost entirely, but with a high proportion of distance forms. The Student Section (SS’21) of the 50th Spring Conference of the Higher School of Mathematics in the city of Sofia was held online on May 15 and 16, 2021. Students from grades 8 to 12 from all schools in the state participated. They developed projects (papers) in mathematics, information sciences or information technology on topics of their choice, individually or in co-authorship, independently or under the guidance of a supervisor or consultant. The authors of the top-ranked papers of the RS’21, who are not in grade 12, received an invitation to participate in the Twenty-first Summer Research School with International Participation (July 25 – August 14, 2021), with their expenses partially covered by the Students’ Institute of Mathematics and information sciences (MATRI). In mathematics, 6 projects of student teams were awarded with diplomas for excellent performance and a medal.

During its twenty years of existence, the Students’ Institute of Mathematics and information sciences (MATRI) has managed to form a wide alumni network, with many young researchers and ICT specialists currently studying and graduating from top research universities /MIT, Princeton, Oxford, MGU, Harvard, etc./. Many are now returning as mentors, continuing to support the mission of the Institute and other internationally recognised research programmes such as RSI, SRSI, PROMYS and others. Indicative of the successes of the Higher School of Mathematics in the city of Sofia alumni are the following facts:

  • 10 alumni rank among the “Top 5” student researchers at RSI;
  • 5 alumni have Intel ISEF awards in the last two years;
  • 6 alumni have received EUCYS awards in the last four years;

15% of the participants are enrolled in Ivy Ledgue, MIT and “Oeuvre programs such as RSI, SRSI, PROMYS, etc.

Stimulating creativity has become a very important goal among our activities in the last year. The advent of new technologies in training and production requires new capabilities and tools, and that is why we strive for visible excellence in our work. Only with a continuous renewal of means, and content will we also influence the new attitude towards science and technology. This is why we most often look for this in the organization and conduct of various competitions.They provide opportunities in conditions of pandemic constraints for individual participation with projects that can be carried out individually and in small collectives. Only in the competition “Space – present and future of humanity participated 1199 students from 8 to 18 years with 1167 projects in five thematic areas.

Another large group of national events-competitions are those organized together with the National Palace of Children. By working together, we are successfully implementing our policy of preparing children and students through extracurricular forms of science and technology.

National competitions in science and technology were also held in Kranevo with students from grades 8 to 12. In 2021 more than 400 participants took part in the International Environmental Forum “Silver 2021”. In the framework of this international event, the competition “Planet Earth – A Priceless Gift” took place. There, the participants presented original authors’ ideas, personal research aimed at solving specific environmental problems, an original way of thinking and an up-to-date civic stance on public matters of regional and national importance directed towards the conservation of nature and the natural habitat of man, studying and conserving bio diversity and the use of new energy sources. Some of the projects were aimed at studying and preserving the unique ornithological natural wealth of the Srebarna reserve. We will also add the National Student Competition “Nature – Our Home”. More than 350 students participated.

For another year we held together with Computer School “Vale” from Haskovo the large-scale international competition “Creativity without Borders”. For the past eight years, it has been held under the patronage of Bulgarian Commissioner Maria Gabriel and is included in the International Youth Year programme. We have received 610 drawings, 420 collages and 112 works from abroad. Following the new current goals related to digitalization in our country, good results have been achieved in attracting more pupils and students in creative processes within the framework of the Students’ Institute of Mathematics and information sciences (MATRI). There has also been improvement in terms of spatial distribution for working with the talented and those with outstanding ability in mathematics and information sciences. There has already been an increased use of computer simulations to investigate mathematical and other problems. It is a satisfying fact that inter-disciplinary projects are no longer a rarity because the most fertile achievements in science lately are a result of precisely such developments. In our country, other structures have already been created, similar to the Higher School of Mathematics in the city of Sofia, which cover other scientific fields and even the humanities. Indicative in this respect is the activity of the Students’ Institute of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, of which Eureka Foundation is a partner. It is also worth noting the visible help that the Students’ Institute of Mathematics and information sciences (MATRI) and the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences Institute receive from their colleagues at the BAS institutes.

What is new in the education policy in our country also has implications on our work and especially for potential opportunities for joint initiatives. There are already too many clubs in schools aligned with the ideas and achievements of STEM education, which include the ones we created. The epidemic situation did not allow us to hold some traditional events such as the conference on science and technology in the language schools in Sofia. Our idea to create a network of clubs in schools also remained unfulfilled; the continuation of the competition-exhibition “Youth Technical Creativity” hosted by the town of Gorna Oryahovitsa was delayed and postponed several times. We would also work to make it an illustration of activities within of the STEM program as well. We should strive to unite our efforts in building a unified system of activities in school, where activities and performances are coordinated, competition and the implementation of the competitive element become an integral part of their approaches, and together we can carry out the training of personnel for this system of professionally oriented projects.

In Haskovo, the previous club “Vale”, which dealt with computer graphics and design, took a new direction of work with constructors .There was developed a new project and began training with children with Lego constructors of a higher class in terms of technology and a new position in robotics, but now with new opportunities for construction and programming. One example of how this is growing is that of the club at the National Polytechnic Museum, and with it the perimeter of influence among children. The example of the first club was contagious. This first experience has been continued and multiplied through new modern training. The experience of the Legotech Club at the National Polytechnic Museum continues to be a stimulus in the work with children and has already restored the children’s activities in attendance. It is worth to seek support from the Ministry of Education and Science in order to transfer the experience of the Valegotech club in Haskovo. A solid foundation for future work is laid there. Evidence of the Foundation’s persistence and consistency in supporting this club in this direction is the project we have prepared for the creation of an analogue village club.

When we saw the children’s interest in construction and especially when their models started to move, we had to move on to programming lessons.  We have seen where we need to go. Here, too, we took into account the possible associated with the provided computer equipment and prepared leaders and teachers for such activity. We slowed down because we had to grade desires and possibilities and so we did.

We see a natural ally in the MES within the new activities in the STEM centres that the MES plans to gradually build in all schools. They will not just be furnished classrooms, but a model for learning through which qualified teachers will use innovative teaching methods to implement what is new in education. There is a clear path to motivating children for the kind of learning that encourages creativity, innovation and a desire to do things differently. Perhaps this will also be the case for those to be equipped in the centres for extracurricular activities for personal development and similar activities.

In the same direction and with the same intentions, mathematics and information sciences curricula can be enriched and teachers can be supported, as is the case in the framework of the Higher School of Mathematics in the city of Sofia and its summer school. Such new knowledge will also be useful for the qualification of teachers themselves and for children who are interested and willing to engage in such activities in their free time.

It would be appropriate to look for opportunities to expand the body of knowledge taught in the curricular process and extracurricular activities and to engage in the initiatives of the Ministry of Education, driven by the belief that modern technology could not exist and be implemented without a thorough mathematics education. Perhaps this is the right moment, because it will be possible when the curricula and the related content of textbooks and curricula are revised.The focus should logically be shifted from foreign language education to mathematics, information sciences, physics and other subjects integrated with them. The new generation of Bulgarian children and young people requires new teaching approaches. This poses a number of challenges for Bulgarian teachers. There is still a lack of creative thinking, teamwork, critical thinking and problem solving tasks in most of the training programmes. In order to change this, first the mindset of the teachers has to change, through which the quality of the learning process has to change. A good example are a number of private schools that attract more creative and young teachers and are already using new technologies and didactic approaches to teaching. That’s what we’re facing, and that’s one of the new directions ahead of us. Some of the projects we supported during the year are in this direction. We met understanding and support in the face of successful technology companies such as Velev Invest OOD. Last year the project “Extracurricular work in mathematics – distance learning” was completed in cooperation with the Union of Mathematicians in Bulgaria. Distance learning was successfully implemented for students of strong interest in mathematics in two groups: Grades 9-10 and Grades 11-12. The four main areas of extra-curricular mathematics – algebra, geometry, combinatorics and number theory – were included in the distance learning. Within the framework of this project, the European Mathematical Cup through the Google Meet platform, the XIII Leonard Euler Mathematical Tournament, the preparation for the International Mathematical Olympiad 2021 and the Balkan Mathematical Olympiad were organized and held.

In the past year, a stage of the project was implemented, which received support from the Eureka Foundation through a donation for the implementation of the Foundation’s activity “Let’s make our imagination a reality – Robotics for young and old”.

6 workstations were created for LEGO&Eucation SPIKE and 14 workstations for BBC micro:bit. Teachers and leaders were able to gain knowledge and skills to present in their schools and to their students. They were trained to enter the STEAM world in an innovative and accessible way. In 2022, we are continuing this project to develop creative thinking, teamwork, initiative, communication, numeracy and analytical thinking.

It was also difficult to make the change for a new type of education in universities, where future teachers and among them supervisors are being prepared for extracurricular activities, for interdisciplinary education, mainly in innovative schools, and to organize this even by the students themselves. This is understandable because with them the training was also done in an electronic environment and there was no live contact with individual students to win them over to the cause. Where there was tradition, established approaches and supportive teachers – we succeeded, but only when the real preparation had started before the crisis.

 

 

 

We should give credit and point to the example of what was done in Plovdiv. There for years we have a good cooperation with the university management of Plovdiv University and the student organizations of the university, the local organization – the Association “Scientific and Technical Union of the House of Science and Technology” in the city of Plovdiv, and to hold together both sessions of the Youth Forum “Science, Technology, Innovation, Business”. It was attended by 59 undergraduates, postgraduates, young academics and young practitioners. Scientific developments in the fields of aviation, mechanical engineering, computer technology, agriculture were presented. The good thing about this initiative is that it has become another forum where students meet representatives of future employers.

Again we shall consider working for and with students. With good cooperation maintained for years, we managed to hold another edition of the National Student Mathematics Olympiad.

It is important to change attitudes to issues like climate change, which is about changing attitudes and choosing ways and means to do so. Let us bring them to the forefront and support projects with such issues, or let us try to do this ourselves in cooperation with other partner organisations. These are not only traditional ones like those for the Srebarna Reserve. We need to build new attitudes towards energy conservation, clean air, and the creation of zero-waste technologies and equipment. That is why we are involved in the preparation and implementation of the joint initiative with the Union of Physicists in Bulgaria and it will include the upcoming conference on physics education and its accompanying program.

  Space as a theme continues to be an attractive territory for many children and young people. This is an activity that is one of the few in which there is growing interest. We draw this conclusion on the basis of the competition “Space – present and future of mankind”. The XXIII edition was in the reporting year. The competition was held successfully and the champions definitely.

We must give credit for the success of this competition to the personal commitment of our Council Vice President, Gen. Georgi Ivanov. We are sure that he acts as a magnet for children even just by his presence and the fascinating stories about what happened during the preparation and implementation of his flight. To them we must add Associate Professor Tanya Ivanova, from whom the participants in this competition learned about the achievements of Bulgarian science, some new experiments and specific achievements of the Bulgarian space research program. In 2021, 1199 students aged 8 to 18 took part in the competition with 1167 projects in five thematic areas. A record number of laureates were selected in this edition of the competition – 138. Students were given individual assignments or ones to work on in small groups at home and participated in this competition with what they created in this format. We were sincerely glad that we were not alone. Teachers, parents and other supporters of the cause joined and helped in this activity. As always, we’ll let the numbers complete the picture. This competition gives an opportunity to everyone – designers, experimenters, modellers, artists and poets. The Ideas for Scientific and Technical Experiments strand received 17 projects last year. In the “Models and makes of space objects” section, 45 models and models were presented by 84 students, and for thematic works created with

In the literary works section, 78 young authors participated with 85 works. Last year, for obvious reasons, most of the participants were young artists. We received drawings from 915 artists from 112 schools and other after-school units.

The National Science and Technology Competitions were also held with students from grades 8 to 12. After pre-selection, 67 participants were admitted to the public defence. There, the most highly rated projects were those on electronic devices and communication tools, software products; business projects; those on chemistry, with application in the food industry; ecology; physics and astronomy; farming; energy efficiency.

Thanks to the good cooperation with the National Palace of Children, as well as with the Bulgarian Federation of Automobile Model Sports, the Bulgarian Federation of Ship Model Sports, the Bulgarian Federation of Aeromodelling, we managed to organize and hold successfully the national student competitions in modelling.

In 2021, more than 400 participants from personal development centres and schools from all over the country took part in the International Environmental Forum “Srebarna 2021”. Traditionally from past years, participants from the city of Calarasi, Romania took part in the event. The main objective of this forum is to intensify the activities of young people in the study and protection of the environment and the promotion of the unique natural wealth of the Srebarna Reserve. It was also held in conjunction with World Environment Day on 5 June. In the framework of this international event, the “Planet Earth – A Priceless Gift” competition for drawing, applied art and literary works was held. There, the participants presented original authors’ ideas, personal research aimed at solving specific environmental problems, an original way of thinking and an up-to-date civic stance on public matters of regional and national importance directed towards the conservation of nature and the natural habitat of man, studying and conserving bio diversity and the use of new energy sources. Some of the projects were aimed at studying and preserving the unique ornithological natural wealth of the Srebarna reserve. In May 2021 we were able to realize another very useful event – the National Student Competition “Nature – Our Home”. More than 350 students participated in it.

.           Among the events with international participation, we must highly appreciate the large-scale competition “Creativity without Borders”. In its twelfth edition in 2021, 610 drawings, 420 collages and 112 works from abroad participated. Once again among them were participants from Serbia, Macedonia, Russia, Ukraine and others.

Common goals for the development of students’ creativity often unite us in common projects with other organizations such as the Union of Physicists in Bulgaria, with which we are co-organizers of the National Conference on Physics Education (the theme of which was

“Physics in the Secondary and High school STEM education.” It was attended by 45 students with 30 projects from 24 primary and secondary schools.

 

 

There in the National competition for essays of pupils and students on the topic “The great discoveries in physics of the XX century”, organized by the Union of Physicists in Bulgaria and the Eureka Foundation. It was attended by over 100 participants – students from 44 primary and secondary schools from all over the country and 1 from abroad, as well as students from 3 universities.

We consider very useful and qualitative our initiative with the Union of Physicists in Bulgaria, carried out under the patronage of the Ministry of Economy dedicated to Space – the direct involvement with the crew of the international space flight “Hello Space! Speak Bulgaria!. The aim of this project was to spark the imagination of today’s youth, inspiring them to take their dreams beyond Earth’s orbit to the Moon, Venus, Mars and beyond, thus allowing Bulgaria to be part of yet another area of technological access to new technologies and collaboration and potentially preparing for the sending of a third Bulgarian astronaut.

During the year we continued our work within the framework of the contract with the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering of the Technical University in the city of Sofia. The Fifth Youth Scientific Conference “Machines, Innovations, Technologies – MIT’2021” was held. It was attended by 36 authors, including 23 young scientists, PhD students and students with 30 papers. The conference has established itself as a place for sharing innovative ideas among young scientists in different fields: Innovative products and technologies in mechanical engineering; ergonomics and industrial design; engineering logistics and construction technology; industrial robots; materials and test methods; mechatronics; automation in engineering design and production; standardization and metrology; control systems and information processing, which also became the topics of the conference sections. Under the good organization and in partnership with the Association “Territorial Organization of Scientific and Technical Unions with the House of Science and Technology in the city of Plovdiv” were held the two sessions of the Youth Forum “Science, Technology, Innovation and Business’ 2021. It was attended by 59 young people – students, PhD students, young lecturers from universities and young professionals from practice. 65 papers were presented.   This is how with the Scientific and Technical Union of Construction in Bulgaria we held for the first time with international participation youth scientific conference “Design and Construction of Buildings and Facilities” There their projects 10 students, 8 PhD students, 11 young scientists and 2 students.

We are well aware that, apart from a green economy, we cannot think about ecological survival without introducing new clean technologies. In 2021, we continued our collaborative work with the National Society for Environmental Engineering and Conservation (NSEEC). We held a Youth Scientific Session within the Seventh International Conference on Environmental Engineering and Conservation. For the session we received support from the European Space Agency, the Institute of Space Research and Technology of BAS, the Institute of Microbiology “Stefan Angelov” of BAS and the Bulgarian Astronautical Society. A total of 67 scientific papers and posters were presented at the conference by scientists from Bulgaria and 11 scientific institutions from 10 countries. Together with the European Space Agency, a MELISSA Youth Science Session on microecological life support systems for astronauts was organised.

As part of our priorities for work are young innovators, for years we have been partners with the Union of Inventors in Bulgaria not only in the competition for young inventor. And last year we participated in the organization of the twelfth edition of the Invention, Transfer and Innovation Exhibition “ITIE’2021”. It brings together scientists, entrepreneurs, inventors, innovation intermediaries, breeders, manufacturers, students and patent specialists. The exhibition is also a competition for inventors, breeders and innovators as well as an experience to market their intellectual products. During this exhibition, business contacts are established in order to put the presented inventions, utility models, industrial designs, new plant varieties and other new solutions into use. Partners in the project are the Patent Office of the Republic of Bulgaria, the Agricultural Academy and the Federation of Scientific and Technical Unions.

A trademark among our competitions are those for the Eureka Awards. These are the iconic Eureka Awards for excellence in science, young manager, inventor and farmer. Their history is no longer years, but decades. The past year has been difficult and challenging. We are aware that this trend will continue. The Eureka Awards and their winners are role models. We strive to make their achievements, style of work and visions for the future known, and to provide them with help and support when needed.For this purpose, we also use the expertise of the consulting offices for the protection of intellectual property, on some legal issues of the organization and functioning of companies and NGOs, on the possibilities for even better use of new equipment and computer technologies. In the last year alone, the Intellectual Property Office has provided over 131 free consultations on IP protection

To support the dissemination of natural scientific, technical and economic knowledge and information.

            There is another area of our activity that is manifest in this field, which is the dissemination of scientific and technical knowledge, which we should probably change in the spirit of the times. These activities are part of and subject to the Information, Publications, Appearances programme. They have been undergoing change in recent years and will continue to do so as time and technology take their toll.

Until recently we relied on libraries and publishing, lectures and other forms, which have been replaced by television, radio and other visual means. Many engineering and science museums still hold the attention, especially of children. When we talk about making popular, we intuitively turn to publications – books and periodicals, to film and television programmes aimed at the general public, in particular children and young people. In addition to the joint work with the National Polytechnic Museum, with which we publish the newspaper

“Technitarche”. In 2021, 6 issues of “Techitarche” were published – thematic or general. We published the materials of the newspaper in electronic form — this was done on the Museum’s website. The publication could also serve a more specialized audience, including school teachers, but also a student and child audience and be used in schools. In this way, we will be useful for generating interest among many more children, especially in small towns where digitalization is still limited.

The second group are activities for the promotion of scientific knowledge and information provision.

It is mainly related to the support of young scientists and researchers.Until recently, this was associated with the support of the expansion of library collections for publications related to their scientific research.Aims and tasks related to the promotion of achievements in science and technology, including those for the achievements of young scientists, were carried out together with the Union of Scientists in Bulgaria (USB), mainly through the journal “Science”. For years it had a reserved territory in the column “Tribune of the Young”, supported by us. Unfortunately, the magazine ceased publication in early 2022 due to lack of funding. There is still no solution to the problem. We are hopeful that the management of the Council of Scholars in Bulgaria will be able to overcome the funding difficulties and restore publication of the journal.

In this line of supporting facts we should not overlook the help of the media. The new thing that has permanently settled in our work is not only learning, but also to disseminate information useful to children and young people about our activities and organized competitions. In this line of thought and solution initiatives, we should look for unused ones through the Foundation’s web page and Facebook page and use them as information channels. On our Facebook page, which is a frequented place for young people, one can find necessary information, but also broadcast such. Social networks have proven to be the exclusive and fastest means of getting information to a very wide range of people. What we’ve done on our website is create opportunities to donate through it.

As an element of this activity is the continuation of the project with the National Radio – program “Hristo Botev”.  Twenty-four editions of the Eureka column were prepared and broadcast in 2021! Successful Bulgarians” in the program line “Air Knowledge”. Scientists and specialists, teachers, entrepreneurs, students and pupils were represented. The information sections presented their projects, trainings and activities, their implementation and development worldwide and in Bulgaria. Their promotion aims to influence young and intelligent Bulgarians to accumulate knowledge and develop their creative thinking and ingenuity. Our experience so far shows that digital skills are and will remain an essential prerequisite for success in mastering the professions of the future.

Participation in international educational, natural science and technical programmes and projects and international youth scientific-technical cooperation.

In recent years, international scientific and technical cooperation, in particular youth cooperation, has become increasingly important. On the largest scale, this was happening in the milieu of MILSET – the International Movement for Science and Technology. This greatly affected the events, but did not prevent future plans and intentions on a bilateral and multilateral basis. Our contacts as a result of our full membership for 30 years serve this purpose.

The problems of the pandemic have forced everyone to very quickly find a way to do things differently and face new realities with creativity. Many of the appearances last year were dedicated to the emergence of virtual and hybrid events. The focus was on how the digital creativity triggered by COVID – 19 changed events forever. The Eureka Foundation took a very active part in the MILSET’2021 World Virtual Summit. It reached 81 countries, including Bulgaria, and more than 36 000 viewers through more than 6,000 video productions. We also participated in the MILSET General Assembly, in which the 2019-2021 Activities Report was adopted, membership procedures were updated and a new online event registration system was approved. Decisions related to upcoming events in 2022 were made, most important for us, the postponed European Science Fair will be attended in July 2022 in Suceva, Romania. We are already actively working on the organization of the Bulgarian participation in this European Expo.We will follow the established tradition of selecting the Bulgarian representatives from among the winners of the National Competition “Young Scientists”.

For the seventeenth time, MILSET Europe held the European Youth Science Day. Faced with the constraints of the pandemic, the organizers decided to extend this Science Day and reformat it into Science Week, which took place in March 2021. In order to allow participation in this activity from home, an attractive and accessible theme “Science in the Kitchen” was chosen. With no age restrictions, children and young people were given the opportunity to organise and share fun experiments on the topic. For the fifteenth time was held the scientific photo contest “When art meets science

 

About some activities related to our non-profit goals and the place and role of our organization in the development of cooperation with other organizations and institutions in our country.

Although in the previous sections of the report we informed about many initiatives and activities carried out with different organizations and structures, we will also make some generalizations.

First and foremost is the Ministry of Education and its divisions; we have their support and understanding. We wanted to be together in the search for changes towards a bolder and more extensive introduction of STEM in the learning process and extracurricular activities, expanding the work in the circle of innovative schools, but this was very limited to implement. The same can be applied to universities, even though they have a certain degree of freedom provided by self-government.

The search for a solution to describe and disseminate experiences and good practices continues to be relevant and therefore the experience of MILSET could be used to create its own platform for extracurricular activities and those in universities, where the role of personal development centres and professional associations of scientists and professionals would be natural.

In our direct work there is also a great need for synergy with business. It is the one to set directions, but also to help, to identify needs related to possible activities for training and realization of personnel. In addition to thanking them, we need to meet and discuss the possibilities with the new needs and practices that exist. As before, we owe most of the existence of our scholarship program to them. These donations are mostly directed to scholarships in areas where there is the greatest need for personnel and in certain specialties.

We continue our joint actions and projects with BAS, as it has been mainly with the Institute of Mathematics and information sciences. BAS already has its own programme for working with children and young people and this explains the relative ease of agreeing collaborative work and projects as is the case with the Institute of Mechanics. There is one major difference in the BAS student institute with the hitherto operating the Higher School of Mathematics in the city of Sofia and that is that it expands the fields beyond the hitherto mathematics-only fields to other such fields as natural sciences, humanities and even arts. Increasingly, projects are being set up in integrated areas and in fields such as history, arts, etc. In this case, the advantage of this approach is that it allows interests to be brought together in interdisciplinary projects. Thanks to the active support of the academicians of the Council of the Foundation, the agreement, which is the basis of our joint initiatives with BAS and CSB (The Council of Scholars in Bulgaria), continues to work.

We also interact well with the Federation of Scientific and Technical Unions. With them, as a partner organization, we have implemented a number of joint initiatives and projects and some of them are already becoming traditional, as it happened with the territorial organization in Plovdiv, with the Scientific and Technical Union of Construction and the Union of Standardization, with the Union of Inventors in Bulgaria, etc. A special place in the partnership with non-governmental organizations is occupied by the Bulgarian Donors’ Forum /BDF/ and the National Network for Children, where we are long-standing full members. We are involved in some of the campaigns and competitions organized such as the Golden Apple Awards2021′; 2nd Bulgarian Donors Forum (BDF) sharing zone meeting “Effective and interesting online meetings – do we know how?”; draft Implementation Plan for the Strategic Framework for Education Development 2021-2030″; “Learn to Give” program; ten years of the “What is the average success of the state in caring for children” Notebook.

The Industrial Capital Association in Bulgaria has always been and continues to be an important partner for us from the business and manufacturing circles in terms of professional choice and career guidance in youth circles. They are our partner in competitions and programs related to business and activities aimed at children and youth, for the discovery of outstanding young managers and inventors. We also often benefit from their research, attitudes and actions of other organisations in these areas. We are pro collaboration and we need to do it in seeking and creating but sustainable partnerships with companies for common projects in vocational schools.

Since its establishment, Cluster Sofia – City of Knowledge has been a voluntary association of leading research, development and training organizations and companies from Sofia and we are among its founders. Through it, we can participate in and, if necessary, benefit from the innovation hubs created at European level. They are also ready to help high-tech startups and scalpers from the creative and media industries in Sofia and the country. On the Cluster’s behalf, we participated in a webinar organised there, which was particularly useful for discovering new partnerships in innovation and global markets.

 

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With the 2021 Annual Report, we continue to develop the ideas set out in the founding of our organization. Time does not and must not stand still, and our quest for the good and the new in engineering and technology must respond to this quest.

Time is changing us, but the main thing remains – the search and discovery of the talents and interests of young people. Even in difficult times, young people and children have not stopped seeking and creating the new, and we believe that this generation is destined to realize many of the dreams of young and old. The direction is clear and we should be organised so that there is development, so that we are mobilised to take the next steps.