Report on EUSO 2016 Preparation.
Dr. Michael A. Cotter, EUSO President
16-20 November 2015
DAY 1: “Hello Estonia”
I was delighted to accept the invitation from Karin Hellat to visit Tartu on the 16-20 November 2015, to meet her, Jaak Kikas and the EUSO 2016 team. I want to applaud them for all the preparations they have made so far to make the 14th EUSO a wonderful week of science, sport, music, friendship and culture for the students and mentors from 25 EU Countries on the 7-14 May 2016.
Anna met me at the Tallinn airport on the 16th. While we waited for the Tartu bus she told me of her plans for the closing ceremony. This might seem like we started at the end and worked backwards, but all will be revealed. Karin and Siiri meet me at Tartu Bus Station and over dinner we caught up on all the news.
DAY 2: “Meeting the Team”
We visited hotels were the delegations will be staying. These hotels are centrally located and in close proximity to all amenities. They have recently been refurbished and are in immaculate condition. The Vanemuine Concert Hall, which is within walking distance of the Hotels, is a fitting venue for the Opening Ceremony (http://www.concert.ee/vanemuise-concert-hall).
The Dorpat Conference Centre (http://www.dorpat.ee/Conference) where the mentors will spend a lot of time discussing and translating the tasks, is a beautiful spacious building which fulfils all our needs. The open areas, off the main hall, has seating accommodation where groups of mentors can sit, translate, drink coffee and debate issues relating to the experiments before the main discussion, chaired by Jaak, takes place.
The staff of the AHHAA Science Centre, which is nearby, are looking forward to welcoming us to their spectacular interactive venue (http://www.ahhaa.ee/). This is well worth a visit. See what can happen if you are not careful. (https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=1523766181275423)
Tamme Gymnasium was our next port of call. The staff and students were very keen to tell us about a special evening of entertainment that they have prepared for the competitors of EUSO 2016. The school will also provide a number of volunteers during EUSO 2016. The student council has published a report on my visit on the school website. The mentors will also visit the school on following Task 1 to meet their students.
I met the Scientific Committee at the University of Tartu. They are putting the final touches to the two experiments, which are the central focus of the EUSO. These experiments satisfy all the requirements of our Mission Statement, are highly original and involve innovations that will change our approach to aspects of the tasks for future years. Every year a new step forward is taken and this year will be no exception.
I want to congratulate Karin, Jaak and all the team of young, enthusiastic and creative colleagues, many former EUSO participants and mentors, for all their hard work in creating and developing experiments that will rival all the great EUSO experiments that have been developed since 2003.
DAY 3: “Going Under Ground”
Today we checked out some aspects of the social/cultural/historical programme. I say “some aspects” because I would need to stay in Tartu for an extra week to visit all the locations that will be on the schedule. Tartu has a lot to offer the visitor and even though it is a small city it has very many places of interest. However, none are large enough to handle 200 persons at the same time. Therefore, the Country Coordinators will have to make choices, in consultation with their students, regarding which centre/location they wish the students to visit. These places of interest will be published on the EUSO 2016 website and the CCs will have to book in advance from a list of 4 (one bus load) which location their six students will visit. The six students from each country will be kept together because their guide will be travelling with them. These places will be allocated on a “first come first served”. Individual mentors will also have to choose for a list of possible locations to visit on the mentors’ day trips.
I began the day with a visit to the Ministry of Education and Research. I thanked the Deputy Secretary General for General and Vocational Education Mr Mart Laidmets and his Department officials for their support as one of the main sponsors of the event on all our behalf. We had a long discussion on Irish/Estonian/EU history and related education matters. Estonian Ministry of Education and Research is fully committed to promoting “Science Integration” at all levels of the education system of Estonia and are therefore fully supportive of the philosophy of the EUSO, including the emphasis on teamwork.
We then drove north to the Kohtla Mining Park. Our guide, a retired teacher and former employee of the mining company made this experience very interesting. The “sort-of train” journey underground is highly recommended, but carries a health warning – if you are claustrophobic, you should maybe look at the other options for that day.
We will all meet up in Maetaguse (http://www.moisahotell.ee/index.php/et/) for dinner. For a modest fee you may partake in some of the facilities that this hotel and spa has to offer (details on the website later).
We ended the day with dinner in the company of the Steering Committee of EUSO 2016 offered by the Ministry of Education and Research.
DAY 4: “Back to Tallinn”
Karin and I visited the Tallinn University of Technology (TUT). The names of it’s graduates are recorded on the Cum Laude notice board in the Chemistry Department. There are no extra points for guessing who one of those students (now alumna) was.
We visited the Mektory Campus (http://www.ttu.ee/mektory-eng) with the vice-rector, prof. Renno Veinthal of TUT. A full day of activities is planned for the students and mentors in this centre.
The Old Medieval Town is just around the corner form the Meriton Hotel. It is a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site and a visit here is a ‘must’.
DAY 5: “Time to say Good-bye”
We met up with Anna again, who is responsible for the Closing Ceremony. It will take place at the Glass Hall of the Song Festival Stadium. Here we have the use of two floors, one for the medal ceremony and final banquet and the other for the ‘farewell party’.
In the afternoon we visited the Seaplane Harbour (http://lennusadam.eu/en/). This is a spectacular maritime museum and another ‘must see’ centre.
And so ended my first visit to Estonia.
Thank you again to Karin, Jaak and the EUSO 2016 team for all preparations they have made for our visit in May.