Help students develop a National Astronomy Olympiad

Posted by Sarah Scoles
on Tuesday, September 24, 2013

What were you doing with your free time in high school? Homework? Band practice? Listening to music loudly and telling people they just didn’t understand you? Forming a national network of science Olympians?

Wait, what?

Personally, I was doing a lot of the first three but not much of that last one. That makes me different from a group of American students who participated in the 2013 International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics (IOAA) — the first astro-reps of the United States to attend the competition. The event features data analysis tests, demonstrations of observational astronomy skills, theoretical exams, and trips to the beach. And now those five students are taking steps both administrative and informative to help others enjoy the same world-class scientific experience. Whether you’re a high-school student who wants to travel abroad and show off celestial knowledge or a well-heeled patron of educational opportunities, take a look at the information below. It comes from one Claire Burch, a member of this year’s Olympiad team.

Who we are:
We are a team of five high-school students interested in astronomy and astrophysics. This year, we formed a team to represent the United States at the seventh IOAA, which took place in Volos, Greece, July 27–August 5. We received two honorable mentions and ranked 11th in the team competition. Because of our positive experience, we are now hoping to establish a national selection procedure for future teams.

The United States representatives at the International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics would like you to join them — or support them — in the future. // IOAA

Why this is important to us:
We had an amazing time at the IOAA, and we want other students interested in astronomy to be able to experience it as well. By attending the IOAA, students will be able to show their knowledge of the subjects and develop close friendships with people from all over the world with interests similar to theirs.

A National Astronomy Olympiad:
We believe that a National Astronomy Olympiad (NAO) would be the best way to select a team for the IOAA in future years. We have formed a 501(c)3 organization called the USA Astronomy and Astrophysics Olympiad (USAAAO). Donations will help us establish a national distribution of tests, host a training camp, and ultimately send a team of five high-school students and one to two delegation leaders to compete internationally.

If you have any questions, suggestions, etc. you can contact us at or We’re hoping to hear from you soon.

— Claire Burch

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