The observatory gave recognition to young researchers
At this year's national research contest for pupils, three young researchers received Tartu Observatory's special awards for papers about growing plants on Mars, measuring methods of the distance of the Andromeda Galaxy, and sky poetry.
The goal of the contest is to offer an output for pupils who have written a good quality research paper, and to motivate pupils to take a more scientific approach in school research papers. Taking part of the contest gives pupils a good chance to receive feedback to their paper.
Tartu Observatory handed out three special awards this year. All of the winners received an astronomical board game.
One of the special award winners was Mattias Kaspar Krõlov, who wrote a research paper about the possibility of growing plants on Mars. A big part of Krõlov's work was a 50-day experiment in the Netherlands, at the Wageningen University & Research. The experiment took place in controlled conditions, and Krõlov used a simulant or Mars' dirt as well as Earth's dirt and lighting. Both his source material and experiment confirmed that although the conditions are better on Earth than on Mars, growing plants on the Red Planet is possible. "It was intresting to read, even for the researchers at the observatory," said Tanel Liira, manager for the observatory's visitor center. "The value of the paper was increased due to the practical part."
Another award-winner was Karmel Kai Murumaa for her research paper "Measuring the distance of the Andromeda Galaxy with Öpik's and Hubble's methods and comparison of those methods". Murumaa found the main differences of Öpik's and Hubble's methods in her paper. They were mostly technical, including the physical parameters used and the execution of the research, as well as inductive discussions and expectations of the researchers. The author also reached relevant explanations of why Hubble's research results became more popular afterwards. Liira thinks the results of the research could be useful, among others, for students who are interested in measuring distances.
The third winner of the observatory's special award was Anni Varjo, who wrote a paper about sky poetry based on the work of six Estonian female poets. Inter alia, she found out that the main topics of sky poetry are religion and courage of religion, love and relationships, nature, seeking for life purpose, reassurance and clarity in confusing situations. The poems didn't highlight many specific objects besides the Moon. Liira thinks that it is very interesting to see Estonian poets talking about the same things that Tartu Observatory's scientists research.
Pupils could submit their papers until February 20. This year, there were the record amount of research papers in the 19-year history of the contest: 195 papers by 218 pupils. There were 167 high school and 28 basic school papers. The youngest participants were from grade 7. In total, pupils from 63 schools submitted their papers.
The contest is organized by the Estonian Research Council together with the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research.