European Schools’ Science Symposium (ESSS)

The European School Science Symposium is a prestigious competition open to pupils of the European Schools in years S1 to S7. Here, individuals or groups of up to 3 students have the opportunity, accompanied and encouraged by a teacher-mentor, to explore an area of scientific interest of their choice. It involves topics not normally covered in the European Schools curriculum – A real free and exciting scientific research!

The selected projects are presented once a year during the symposium and evaluated by teachers and subject experts. The young talents are evaluated separately by age, and the best projects in the junior and senior categories are awarded prizes.

The overall best project in the senior category will represent the European Schools at the European Union Contest for Young Scientists (EUCYS) later in the year.

In recent years, the projects of the European School in Karlsruhe have stood out for their originality and the care taken in researching the topics covered, earning us numerous prizes in both categories.

In addition to the scientific and educational importance of this competition, it is important to emphasise that the symposium is a unique opportunity to meet experts from the various scientific disciplines and hear what they have to say, as well as to build a network of contacts that is important for the further development of young scientific talent.

Below are the words of some students who attended.

Isaia P. (S6EN) : “An amazing experience! There were so many intelligent people, interesting events and inspiring ideas. If you have even the slightest interest in science and projects, I recommend you give it a try. It was bombastic!”

Laura V. (S3EN): “Overall, I think the European School Science Symposium is a wonderful experience for us students. At ESSS, we are exposed to many different experiments conducted by students from different European schools. Also, not everything at ESSS has to do with science as we get to do a lot of fun activities such as ice skating, a disco, etc. This is also a chance for us participants to have fun. It’s also a chance for us participants to make new friends (I’m still in touch with mine!). I participated in ESSS in a group consisting of two of my classmates, but you can also work alone. We participated in the ESSS in Strasbourg for the first time in 2022 and we liked it so much that we decided to participate again in 2023! I would say both times were great, accompanied by many new experiences, knowledge and food. Although you have to put a lot of work and time into your project and sometimes even spend the evenings at school doing experiments, I think it is worth it. You learn many things you wouldn’t otherwise learn in class and even have the freedom to choose your own experiment! It also helps to improve your presentation skills when speaking in front of an audience, which is very helpful at school (I’ve found that I’m much more confident now when speaking in front of a crowd). I would encourage anyone with a creative mind to come up with an experiment and try the ESSS! ”

Mila S. (S6DE): “For me, the ESSS was a great experience.

In the morning, we had the opportunity to share ideas and insights about our projects with other students. In the afternoon we had the opportunity to relax and socialise, for example skating, making connections beyond academia.

The ESSS successfully brings together students from different parts of the world through our shared zeal and enthusiasm for science.”

Laura P. (S6DE): “ESSS 2023, three days full of science, speeches and socializing.

The common boredom between us students at the opening ceremony brought

us to start interacting with the other schools. Eyes were rolled, speakers were mocked

and socials exchanged.

The next morning was all about the poster-show. About 150 students nervously unpacking their final product of months worth of frustration, research and effort. Obviously we were all curios what the competition was up to and so the judging eyes and whispered comparing started. Alliances were being established and rivalries formed. (Obviously #nohate though)

After a tour around the JRC campus the seniors started to feel the nervousness about their presentations creeping up. You were brought into a room with a ginormous screen in the back and a group of judges in front of you. After the presentation ended you were asked questions and, best case scenario, you knew what you were talking about and left the room, feeling nothing but relief.

That evening we were invited to the European School of Varese. The teacher band played, Mr. Agoston danced, Isaia dunked his head into a bowl of water and we met more fellow es-students. The finalists were to be announced at the “ice skating fun night” later that evening and even though the Karlsruhe team was too late, our connections to the varese students saved our evening. Two Karlsruhe Teams made the final. What a night!

The next day flew by. Five senior and five junior teams presented in front of the everybody. Vitamin patches, “trash machine”s, remote controlled paper airplanes, homemade fertilizers, and pain relief. One project as fascinating as the other. After a fairy boat tour over the Lago Maggiore the evening took a massive turn when three of the Karlsruhe team somehow ended up with a group of Belgian students. After a walk to the closest McDonalds we returned to the hotel but there was still so much to talk about.

The last morning started with the closing ceremony. A variety of more or less important stakeholders held speeches and all we wanted was to hear the rankings the judges decided upon. When the moment finally came, Arman couldn’t believe it, Mrs. Valdiserri was jumping up and down, Mrs. Santos couldn’t stop smiling and even Isaia appeared to be happy. Karlsruhe won!

After the train ride back to Karlsruhe, we all agreed, that: This event, once again, united us all in diversity!”

Isabella R. (S3EN): “The European School Science Symposium doesn’t just let you bring your unique ideas to life but allows you to travel and meet new people. Every year the hosting school plans a variety of activities for the ESSS participants to take part in. This year we were able to go to Varese, Italy and visit the JRC. During our trip we were not only able to present our projects to a panel of judges, but we were able to tour the JRC, visit the European School of Varese, and on one of the nights we went ice skating. ”

Arman P. (S6EN): “The 2023 ESSS in Varese was an extremely valuable experience in many ways. From the moment we came up with an idea in November, all the way up to the last day of the symposium, we experienced so many new things: long meetings to adapt and plan the next steps of the project, using new equipment in laboratory facilities we never thought we would have access to, analysing and writing up these results into a coherent final product, and finally going to Varese. It was an extremely rewarding process to see all our work be put together into something we are proud of. During the three days we were there, not only did we learn what a science conference was like, but we spent time with like-minded people, even having time to visit the area on a ferry tour.”

Florence H. (S3EN): For me, I really enjoyed the ESSS, especially learning about other people’s project and ice-skating. Although we did not make it into the finals, I had a lot of fun on the trip!