Are you preparing for the tournament or thinking about participating but still have some questions about how the tournament works or what you will need to do during those Science Fights? Some commonly asked questions and their answers can be found here. If you can't find the answer you were looking for, feel free to contact us.


About the SYNT:

The SYNT, short for Swiss Young Naturalists' Tournament, is a project-oriented science competition for students between the ages of 12 and 16 years. Each participant solves one of 17 interesting science problems and presents his/her solution at the tournament in a Science Fight (see below). The tournament is a team competition (teams of two) and is held in English and German. Students also practice skills such as project management, presenting, debating and teamwork.

Any student between the ages of 12 and 16 years living in Switzerland and enrolled in a school based in Switzerland may participate. If you like working on your own scientific project and have a curiosity for science, the SYNT is right for you. For older students we organize the Swiss Young Physicists' Tournament.

The tournament consists of several debate-like Science Fights in which three teams compete. Each fight consists of three rounds that follow a strict schedule (see SYNT Regulations). In the first stage, a member of the first team takes the role of the Reporter, a member of the second team the role of the Opponent and the third team takes the role of the Observer. In the second and third stage the roles cycle through the teams and team members according to the Fight Plan.

To help students prepare for the SYNT we organize the Science Workshop which is usually held in February. During the Science Workshop students conduct measurements for their problems and are coached for Science Fights. Additionally, social activities are organized so you can get to know fellow participants. Please note that the problems offered at the Workshop may be restricted. The number of spots at the Workshop is limited.

There are no fees to participate at the SYNT or Science Workshop. Additionally, we offer meals at our tournament and pay an allowance for accommodation for students living too far to commute to the tournament. Students must pay for their own transportation to and from the events.


Before the SYNT:

The registration is usually from October to December (see specific tournament year for exact dates) and can be done online. Please note that you must first make an account before entering your data. You can either register as an individual or as a team of two (important: every student in a team must register separately) and can choose whether you would wish to take part at the Science Workshop. You must also select the problem you wish to present. Please note
  • The registration is only definite once confirmed by us. Although we try to send out the confirmations as soon as possible, it may take a few weeks after the registration deadline until you hear from us.
  • If we receive many registrations for the tournament and/or the Science Workshop, we may not be able to accept everyone.
  • Incomplete and invalid registrations will not be considered.
Although the SYNT-problems usually cover several different science fields, there are some common procedures. For almost all problems some material, e.g. a video or article, already exists and provides a suitable starting point (after all, somebody must come up with these problems). You should also think about a suitable setup/device to conduct quantitative experiments. When performing your experiments make sure they are reproducible and try to also perform error analysis. If possible, at least one relevant parameter should be investigated quantitatively and compared to theory. Finally, start writing your presentation early and make sure you document your work (pictures, videos, ...). Warning: research is hardly ever predictable. Experiments may not work the first time or other problems may arise, so don’t do everything last minute. Be persistent but also have fun.


At the SYNT:

Every participant will be active in three Science Fights, once as the Reporter and once as the Opponent. In the third round, the team can decide how to distribute the roles.

The Reporter presents a solution to the problem selected during the registration (see Fight Plan). Most presentations are prepared in PowerPoint, Keynote, or similar programs. The time for the presentation is strictly limited to 8 minutes.

An important aspect of the presentation is to convince the other teams and the jury that you did your own experimental work. You can bring along devices you have been using for your investigation, but it is also perfectly fine to just show videos/photographs instead. A good solution should also show a good understanding of the relevant theory. If possible, at least one relevant parameter should be investigated quantitatively and compared to the theoretical prediction.

There are three parts while the Opponent takes the stage:
  • summary of the presentation and critical feedback (strengths and weaknesses)
  • discussion between Opponent and Reporter
  • summary of discussion

In the second phase the Opponent leads a discussion with the reporter on shown solution. In a good discussion, both Opponent and Reporter participate equally and articulate their opinion frequently. Furthermore, the Opponent ideally manages to help the Reporter further develop the solution but still focuses on the parts that were presented.

You can find out about the problem you will have to oppose once the Fight Plan is published (two weeks prior to the tournament). It is advisable to prepare for your opposition by reading some literature and thinking about possible discussion points.

Although there is only one active team member in each stage, it is important that the other team member provides as much help as possible. During the presentation they can assist the Opponent by writing down unclear points or shortcomings. During the discussion team members can pass on new questions (e.g. on a sheet of paper) to their active team member. Additionally, they may answer specific questions during the jury questions as well as provide technical support.
Pro IYPT-CH organizes a jury for each science fight. Each juror grades the performance of Reporter (on a scale of 1 to 30) and Opponent (on a scale of 1 to 20) independently. The average is calculated but with the single lowest and highest grade counting only half and the grade rounded to two decimals (e.g. if you get a 12, 14, 14, 18, 18 for your opposition then the 12 as well as one of the 18’s count half such that your average is 15.25). Once the fight is over the points acquired by each team are added up and rounded to a single decimal. These grades are used to compile both a team and an individual ranking that is published on our website.
We select the winners of each language group and 6 further students based on the individual ranking for the Team Qualification which takes place a couple of weeks after the SYNT. At the Team Qualification students get another chance to compete in a Science Fight with a new problem. Based on the performances at the Team Qualification we select six students to represent Switzerland at the IYNT.