Pinewood’s Team Returns from the International Space Olympics


Pinewood’s team consisted of five students: Kristof Kapurani, Spiros Vagianos (grade 9), Snezhana Boneva (grade 11), Theodora Pilitsi and Christiana Vagianou (grade 12). All our students took part in the Mathematics and Creative Writing competitions and Snezhana participated in Physics as well. Despite the fact that we weren’t familiar with all the rules and requirements of the competitions, our students performed well and Kristof Kapurani was placed second in creative writing for his age group.

We stayed at the Voshod camp, about 30km outside the city of Korolyov, which is considered the center of the Russian space program, since the two major space corporations, the mission control center and Star City, the training center for cosmonauts are located in or near this city of scientists. The opening ceremony took place on Friday, October 21 in the congress center of Korolyov, with the presence of the mayor of the city, officials from the ministry of education, teachers and students from schools in Korolyov. On the first day students met the Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko who was more than willing to talk about his training, the flight to space, the experiments and the daily routine on the space station. During the next days we went to Moscow several times to visit the Kremlin, the World War II museum and the astronautics museum. The competitions started on Saturday, October 22 with the first round of projects presentations and finished on Thursday, October 27 with Physics.

One of the highlights of the trip was the visit to the Mission Control Center in Korolov, one of the two facilities in the world that control the flight of the International Space Station (the other mission control center is located in Houston, Texas). Three students and one teacher from each school were able to enter the control room of the space station and communicate with the astronauts on board of the station in a live 25-minutes long communication session. Snezhana and Christiana had the opportunity to answer questions to the cosmonauts about their lives, family and experiences in space and on Earth. Everyone else was able to watch the communication session from another control room and meet Fyodor Yurchikhin, a highly experienced Russian cosmonaut.

On the last day of the Olympics we visited Star City, where cosmonauts are being trained for their flight and stay in the International Space Station and then we went back to the camp for the closing ceremony. It was a fantastic, but also a sad day, since we had to say goodbye to all the new friends we made in the past 10 days. Finally we spent our last day in Moscow and arrived in Thessaloniki on Sunday morning.

Looking back at the 11 days we stayed in Korolyov, I will always remember our arrival at Domodedovo airport after midnight, the hospitality of our Russian colleagues who were involved in the organization of the event, the traffic around Moscow and our crew leader, Anastasia, who was always willing to help us and make our students feel comfortable, even after we left the camp on our last day in Moscow. I would like to thank Snezhana for helping us read the signs and find our way in the Moscow metro and all our students for making this trip a big success. Overall it has been a fantastic experience and I am looking forward to form a new team that will participate in the 20th International Space Olympics next year!

Dimitrios Terzidis

Science Teacher / IB Coordinator