Session 8: Infrastructure, History and Teaching in Astronomy

Title: Astronomy and Space Science Plympiads in Israel - A Different Approach to Conducting the Contests
Author(s): M. Meidav (oral)
Contact: M. Meidav, School of Eduaction, Tel-Aviv University,

  On 22 March 2001, the final stage of the 7th annual Israeli Astronomy and Space Science Olympiads took place at Tel Aviv University. More than 400(!) young contestants, aged 15-17 years of age, participated in the first stage, a written test with questions covering various areas in astronomy and space sciences. Only 89 contestants progressed to the second stage, which included both multiple-choice and open-ended questions. The top five contestants went on to the final stage.

  The final and most exciting stage of all the Olympiads (attendance is open to the public) includes three rounds. In the first and third rounds, contestants are confronted with typical open and closed questions, similar to those used in most such competitions. In the second round, however, several different approaches have been implemented by us over the years. One of these approaches not only enabled us to examine the contestantsí knowledge, but also was interesting to the audience. This approach required us to compose a short article about astronomical phenomena, with about 15 errors deliberately planted in each text. The contestants were requested to detect as many errors as they could.

  In this demonstration, we will illustrate this approach by means of one of these articles, about pulsars and a question from the 3rd round.