International Earth Science Olympiad

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The International Earth Science Olympiad (IESO), one of the thirteen International Science Olympiads, is an annual competition for secondary school students that tests their abilities in disciplines such as geology, meteorology, environmental science, and terrestrial astronomy. Students who are winners of the respective national competitions are invited to participate in the IESO, and all interested countries are encouraged to contribute to the IESO.

It is one of the major activities of the International Geoscience Education Organization - IGEO that aims at raising student interest in and public awareness of Earth sciences, as well as to enhance Earth science learning of students.


The IESO was first suggested by Korean earth scientists. In 2003, the Korean Earth Science Society (KESS) organized the first Korean Earth Science Olympiad. The international competition was adopted as one of major activities of International Geoscience Education Organization later that year.

In November 2004 in Seoul, representatives from ten countries gathered to discuss the curriculum and the format of IESO. 23 presentations were made and the IESO Advisory Committee was established with members including Chairperson Moo Young Song, Hendra Amijaya, Roberto Greco, Ken-ichiro Hisada, Thomas Lorillard Tailer, Chang Chun-Yen, Miguel Cano, Shankar Rajasekharaiah, and Chan-Jong Kim. The IESO Syllabus Commission was then developed in 2005, and the first International competition was held in 2007.

The first IESO was held in October 2007 in Daegu, South Korea, where the Chinese Taipei team won first place with three gold medals and one silver medal. The Korean team placed second with one gold and three silver medals, the United States followed in third with two silver and two bronze medals, and India was placed fourth with two silver medals.[1]

Second (2008) competition took place in Manila, Philippines, with the theme "Cooptition in Addressing Climate Change" (the word "cooptition" refers to a combination of competition and cooperation). Its aim was to promote global Earth science education and international cooperation in mitigating anthropogenic harm to the environment.

Third IESO took place in Taipei, in September 2009 with the theme "Human Environment". Fourth IESO took place in Yogyakarta, Indonesia in September 2010 with the theme "The Present is the key to the Future".

The IESO is one of the only three International Science Olympiads (along with the International Linguistics Olympiad and International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics) to include an International Team Competition. Past International Team Competitions have included developing stratigraphic sequences, evaluating living on the Mt. Mayon volcano, and evaluating the fault escarpment of the Chi-Chi earthquake.

In 2010 in Indonesia, the International Team Competition focus on sustainability and the use of underground water. The 2013 IESO was performed in Mysore, India, and in 2014, in Santander, Spain. The 2015 IESO took place in Poços de Caldas, Minas Gerais, Brazil. 31 countries participated in IESO 2016. [2]

Aims of the IESO[edit]

The IESO is intended to raise student interest in and public awareness of Earth Science, to enhance Earth science learning of students, and to identify talented and gifted students in Earth science. The IESO is also developed in pursuit of encouraging friendly relationship among young learners from different countries and promoting international cooperation in exchanging ideas and materials about Earth science and Earth science education. The IESO is aimed at improvement of teaching of Earth science in school.

List of past and future venues[edit]

  • 1- 2007 –
  • 2- 2008 –
  • 3- 2009 –
  • 4- 2010 –
  • 5- 2011 –
  • 6- 2012 –
  • 7- 2013 –
  • 8- 2014 –
  • 9- 2015 – Brazil Brazil
  • 10- 2016 – Japan Japan
  • 11- 2017 – France France

Source :


All major areas of Earth Sciences, including geology, geophysics, meteorology, oceanography, astronomy, and environmental science, are considered for selecting topics for the competition. In 2014, the tests were integrated for the first time.

The International competition consists of a theoretical and a practical examination. The written examination includes problems which are developed to measure the participants' robust knowledge and understanding in Earth science areas.

The practical examination consists of tasks which are designed to assess participants' abilities to carry out scientific investigations in earth science inquiries. Participants are allowed to bring non-programmable calculators for the examinations. Sometimes special tool are provides as telescopes, geology compass, meteorological instruments and so on. The top twenty or so, students who qualify the entrance test for IESO are called for the training camp whose duration is about 20 days. On the basis of performance of these students the final team is selected which represents the particular country at the International Competition.

The competition is individual.[3]


Each team consists of up to four competing students, an alternate, and mentors. The mentors must be specialists in Earth science and/or Earth science education and capable of serving as members of the International Jury. The official language of the competition is English, and the mentors must also translate for their teams from their native language. Students qualify to attend the IESO by winning national Earth science competitions in their home countries.

In the United States, selection of the traveling Earth Science team was run through the Global Challenge Award organization in 2007 and 2008. Selection starts with a teacher nomination and the students taking a placement exam. Final selection of the team members involves theoretical assessments as well as essay writing and participation in a training camp. The team is chosen based on skill in earth science, ability to solve complex problems, interaction with other students, and ability to diplomatically discuss pressing environmental issues. The United States program is run by IESO Team USA. The training Institute is held in the summer at The University of Vermont.


External links[edit]