Bright minds at work
We encourage curious young people, awaken their scientific talent and creativity, and we prove: Science is exciting. We organise workshops, camps, exams and competitions for 5,000 talented young students in biology, chemistry, geography, informatics, linguistics, mathematics, philosophy, physics, robotics and economics.
We create encounters between young people and scientists. Together, they think, work - and laugh. We enable eexchange and create friendships among like-minded people - leading to room for new impulses and bright ideas.
Around 350 volunteers organise the 10 Science Olympiads. On average, the work of a volunteer is equivalent to a 5% job. At this point, a big thank you!
We are organised as an association. In addition to the volunteers, there is a volunteer board of directors and an office with six part-time employees.
Once upon a time
It began in the 1950's with some school competitions in Central Europe and covers now all continents: The Science Olympiad became a global movement.
In 2004, the then five Olympiad associations of Switzerland founded the umbrella association of the Science Olympiad.
1987 - Chemistry
In 1987, the then president of the Swiss Biology and Chemistry Teachers, Maurice Cosandey, put together the first chemistry team, which came from the French-speaking part of Switzerland. Soon, participants from the rest of Switzerland also signed up and the organizers intensified the training, as the realization quickly grew that Swiss middle school students, while broadly educated, could only keep up with international competition in individual subjects through specific preparation.
1991 - Mathematics
In 1991, on the initiative of middle school student Bea Wollenmann, a first mathematics team represented Switzerland. She led the Swiss delegations for several years. Her successors professionalized the preparation, developed systematic scripts and documents, and expanded participation to all parts of the country.
1992 - Informatics
The Informatics Olympiad followed in 1992. Very early the computer scientists used the Internet for e-learning. A large part of the preparation and knowledge management among the organizers is also done electronically.
1993 - Coordination office
A first cooperation among the different Science Olympiads was already initiated in 1993 by Claire von Wyss from Bern. As coordinator, she was able to open many a door. The internal exchange of knowledge also helped the new Olympiads to succeed. In 2001, Alfredo Mastrocola replaced Claire von Wyss and led the coordination office until 2004.
1995 - Physics
The first physics team was ready in 1995, with organizational roots in Ticino with Giorgio Häusermann and thanks to the support of the coordination office in Bern. The training often took place at the Alte Kantonsschule Aarau - in the Einstein year even with a look at the theory of relativity. The organizers are people with teaching experience and former participants.
1999 - Biology
Two passionates for biology, the student Thomas Braschler and the high school student Daniel Wegmann, founded the Swiss Biology Olympiad in 1999. It is currently the largest Swiss Science Olympiad. In addition to preparing for the competition, the Biology Olympiad aims to give as many young people as possible an insight into biology.
2004 - Swiss Science Olympiads Association
In 2004, the five Olympiad associations of biology, chemistry, computer science, mathematics and physics jointly founded the Association of Swiss Science Olympiads (VSWO). A permanent office was established at the University of Bern. Daniel Wegmann took over the presidency of the association. Claudia Appenzeller was responsible for the management. From 2008 to 2010 Reto Locher was president of the VSWO, since 2011 Johannes Josi is president, and from 2010 to 2014 Marlis Zbinden was in charge of the management. From 2014, Irène Steinegger-Meier and Marco Gerber share the management of the office. As of 2017, Cyrille Boinay is heading the office together with Marco Gerber, with Michele Dolfi as president.
2006 - Philosophy
On the initiative of Jonas Pfister, a team from Switzerland participated for the first time in 2006. In 2011, an association agreement was signed with the Swiss Science Olympiads Association. In 2015, the association was accepted as a full member.
2012 - 6th Middle European Mathematical Olympiad MEMO in Solothurn
MEMO 2012 in Solothurn was the first time that an international Science Olympiad took place in Switzerland. With the support of the VSWO, the Swiss Mathematical Olympiad Association organized this challenging event largely on its own and welcomed some 60 young mathematical talents from 10 European countries to the Ambassadorial City from September 06 - 12.
2013 - 24th International Biology Olympiad IBO 2013 in Bern
The VSWO, the Swiss Biology Olympiad and the University of Bern as host welcomed about 550 participants from 64 countries to the 24th International Biology Olympiad IBO 2013 in Bern. The best international biology young talents competed during an intense week from July 14-21 in this high-level competition, exchanging ideas and getting to know Switzerland and the local culture. VSWO and the University of Bern acted as co-organizers of the IBO 2013.
2015 - Geography
Committed geography teachers founded the Swiss Geography Olympiad Association in 2014. Already in the following year, they started the first preliminary competition of the Swiss Geography Olympiad in voluntary work and thus prepared the way to the International Geography Olympiad (iGeo). In 2015, the Geography Olympiad was accepted by the VSWO Association Assembly as an associate member, and in 2016 as a full member. In summer 2016, for the first time, a Swiss team participated in an iGeo in Beijing.
2016 - 47th International Physics Olympiad IPhO 2016 in Zurich
From July 11 - 17, 2016, 400 middle school students from 84 countries met in Zurich at the 47th International Physics Olympiad. They dedicated themselves to their favorite subject, physics, competed for medals at Olympic level, and exchanged ideas across language and cultural boundaries. The Swiss Physics Olympiad and VSWO organized the event together with the University of Zurich and the Principality of Liechtenstein.
2017 - 6th European Girls' Mathematical Olympiad 2017 in Zurich.
Young women and mathematics: it's a perfect match, as the 168 middle school girls from 43 nations proved at the European Girls' Mathematical Olympiad in Zurich. From April 6 to 12, 2017, the math talents competed for medals at two competitions and forged friendships across national borders.
2017 - Robotics as a new offer
Since September 2017, the Robotics Olympiad has been part of our umbrella organization. The Olympiads are growing - we are very happy about the expansion of our offer.
2019 - Economics as a new offer
Together with YES, a non-profit organization for hands-on business and public opinion programs, we are developing the Economics Olympiad for the second year. It's a collaboration that leverages existing strengths of both organizations to introduce students to the academic side of the discipline.
2021 - Linguistics as a new offer
The Linguistics Olympiad has been held internationally since 2003. In Switzerland, the competition will be held for the first time in November 2021. At the end of May 2021, the Science Olympiad accepted the Linguistics Olympiad as the 10th member of the association. The initiator of the bid is linguistics lecturer Michiel de Vaan. The Linguistics Olympiad is supported by the SAGW, among others.
2021 - 1st European Girls' Olympiad in Informatics
The European Girls' Olympiad in Informatics, EGOI for short, was created by volunteers of the Swiss Olympiad in Informatics, following the example of EGMO, to promote young women. The very first EGOI took place from 13 - 19 2021, not in Zurich as planned due to the pandemic, but online.
2022 - 16th Middle European Mathematical Olympiad
The 10 MEMO countries take turns organizing the competition. The second Swiss MEMO was held in Bern from August 25 to 31, 2022.
2023 - 55th International Chemistry Olympiad
From July 16 - 25, 2023, the International Chemistry Olympiad was held at ETH Zurich. Over 300 young chemists from around 90 countries traveled to Zurich to make contacts, look for clever solutions and get to know Switzerland.
International Olympiads in Switzerland
With its Olympiads, Switzerland makes an international contribution: Networking, exchange and friendships across national and cultural borders.
2023: International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO) in Zurich
2022: Middle European Mathematical Olympiad (MEMO) in Bern
2021: European Girls' Olympiad in Informatics (EGOI) in Zurich
2017: European Girls' Mathematical Olympiad (EGMO) in Zurich
2016: International Physics Olympiad (IPhO) in Zurich
2013: International Biology Olympiad (IBO) in Bern
2012: Central European Mathematical Olympiad (MEMO) in Solothurn
We would like to thank the following institutions, companies and authorities for their support: