EUSO2019 Report, by Dr. Michael Cotter

News

To All EUSO Members

I recently returned from Almada and Lisbon. I’m delighted to tell you all that EUSO 2019, directed by Isaura, will be a wonderful experience for both students and mentors alike. Preparations are at a very advanced stage with only the final tweaking still remaining to be done to make everything absolutely perfect. The problem for the organisers is that Almada and Lisbon have so much to offer that they must now start limiting the number of historic, cultural and other locations of interest to be visited, to fit into the weeklong EUSO schedule.

I met Dr. José Vítor Pedroso, head of the Directorate General of Education (DGE), Dr. Hélder Pais, Director of Curriculum Development Services of DGE and Dr. Isaura Vieira, Director of EUSO 2019, who accompanied me to the Ministry of Education where we met Minister Dr. Tiago Brandão Rodrigues. Due to his previous career in scientific and medical research, most recently in the University of Cambridge, the Minister expressed strong support for the concept of EUSO. He articulated a keen interest in such aspects as integrated science and teamwork and he very much supports the bringing together of young EU science students in an EU city for a week each year. He expressed the hope that female students would be well represented at EUSO 2019. Before leaving I thanked the Minister and his staff for their huge commitment to EUSO 2019 in Portugal.

Later that day, Dr. Hélder Pais introduced me to the key persons in the Organising Committee (OC) which is chaired by Dr José Matos. You may recall meeting him in Ljubljana last year. The OC has 13 members which include DGE members, all of whom are curriculum advisers and developers in the area of science education. These include Dr. Ana Lopes, Dr. Carla Rodrigues, Dr. Catarina Ramos and Dr. Sílvia Castro. In addition, high school teachers, university professors and researchers are also members of OC. Many have experience in managing the senior Olympiads in Portugal.

Next day we visited Mayor Inês de Medeiros, Mayor of the Municipality of Almada, who is also sponsoring EUSO 2019. She expressed her delight at being involved in EUSO and is looking forward to meeting all the delegations in May. Mentors and students will be residing in Almada, a seaside resort, which is linked to the city of Lisbon via the “25th of April Bridge”, an impressive suspension bridge over the Tagus river.

We met Professor Dr. Virgílio Machado, Director of the NOVA School of Science and Technology (FCT) and the Scientific Committee (SC) at the University Nova of Lisbon. We visited the laboratories which are new and spacious. Each team will have more than adequate space, allowing the students to move around freely and work together to complete the tasks.

The SC is chaired by Professor Dr. Maria João Romão, whom we all met in Ljubljana last year. The SC has 17 members who are experienced teachers, university professors and many of whom have a background in the senior Olympiads. They are, however, all very aware that EUSO is different from the other Olympiads and they have taken all these differences on board. In addition, there are postgraduate laboratory assistants and supervisors to help with the smooth running of the Tasks.

Regarding the Tasks: - I will only say at this point that both Tasks are ready and printed. All that remains now is for the final testing and the finishing touches to take place.

The discussion/translation room is in the hotel; it is perfect and it satisfies all our needs. It is a large square room, thus all delegations are close to the big screens at all times. It has all the usual IT equipment needed for conferences; additional modems will be installed to increase Internet access and additional electricity wires will be installed to power individual laptops. We can also use other rooms adjacent to the main room. The balconies on both sides of the building will also be available for those who maybe prefer to work outdoors overlooking the Atlantic ocean.

Dr. Isaura Vieira, Dr. Carla Rodrigues, Dr. Catarina Ramos, Dr. Sílvia Castro and I also visited the location of the opening ceremony, which is a tiered auditorium within the University. We can all look forward to a spectacular opening ceremony. We also visited the location of the closing ceremony. This venue is perched high above the river Tagus on the Almada side, giving a panoramic view of Lisbon. Our final evening in Portugal at EUSO 2019 will certainly be memorable.

EUSO Members will only fully appreciate, on arriving in Portugal in May and during EUSO 2019 itself, the huge commitment of the Portuguese teaching profession, the scientific community, the academic community, the University, the Higher Technical Institutes, the political organisations and the civil and public services of the State of Portugal and of the cities of Almada and Lisbon to making EUSO 2019 a success and the many hours that have been spent and will continue to be spent in order to achieve this aim. I have tried, on your behalf, to convey our sincere gratitude and thanks to them all during my visit.

EUSO 2019 will be a spectacular event.