The Swiss Young Naturalists' Tournament (SYNT) is a project-oriented science competition in English, where students aged 12 to 161) from anywhere in Switzerland participate. In so called Science Fights two teams (each consisting of two students who worked on individual problems) compete against each other. They take turns presenting and defending their solution to a given problem, criticizing and discussing the solution of the opposing team. The performance of both teams is assessed by a jury. The teams have to try to convince both their opponents as well as the jury of the quality of their scientific work and results and of the understanding of science.
The Science Fights are accompanied by an attractive social program including lab visits, opening ceremony, lunch and dinner as well as the big final and the subsequent award ceremony.
The problems are a selection of the ones for the international counterpart, the International Young Naturalists’ Tournament (IYNT). The list of problems is published about 3 months in advance to the SYNT. The problem selection covers problems from the different natural sciences: Biology, Chemistry and Physics.
Usually, they are formulated quite openly and no single, simple or final solution is possible; therefore, the presentations to the same problem tend to be quite different: focussing on different aspects of the phenomenon or featuring different methods for example. Careful work and creativity during the experiments is just as important as a good knowledge and understanding of middle school science.
Two teams compete against each other in the roles of Reporter (Rep) and Opponent (Opp). The official language of the tournament is English - just as at the international tournament. But no fear: The focus is on (scientific) content and not pronunciation or grammar.
The tasks for the two students actively involved in a fight are as follows:
- The Reporter presents his/her solution for the selected problem. The solution is expected to cover at least an important aspect of the problem with a theoretical model and experimental results verifying this model. The solution should be understandable for a secondary school student.
- The Opponent asks clarifying and critical questions and points out possible shortcomings and mistakes in the solution presented by the Reporter. He/She shows the presentation‘s strengths and weaknesses. The discussion has to be based on the solution presented by the Reporter (not on the Opponent‘s). A good Opponent should lead the discussion in a way that both participants can learn something new.
A Science Fight typically consists of two teams and the roles of the teams are changed after one round. If there are three teams involved in a fight, each team pauses for one stage.
The full regulations for the SYNT can be found here.
1) Participants must not turn 17 in the calender year of the respective tournament.