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Pupils from 14 to 19 years old are invited to express their inspiration from space and to have fun, through the preparation of a project on space science and technology.

Odysseus II contest provides pupils in the Pioneers category with the opportunity to use experimental methods and become aware of a whole new world of scientific excellence.


Ready to take the challenge?...
Join the Pioneers!
  • The contest is open to secondary school pupils from fourteen (14) to nineteen (19) years old. This concerns secondary school pupils born on or between 1st April 1997 and 31st March 2003.
  • ‘Pioneers’ work in teams with between two (2) to three (3) members, led by one teacher-leader. Pupils within a team may be from different schools within the same country or different classrooms/grades within a school, so long as the age criterion is respected. Each team may also have a mentor to guide them technically or scientifically.
  • Each Pioneers’ team must have a teacher-leader to lead the team and support the registration and submission of projects, to provide guidance during the project and during travel to the semi-finals and finals.
  • All teams can submit only one project and each contestant may compete in only one team.
  • Teams should choose a unique, identifying name that reflects the educational, scientific or social aims of the contest.
  • All contestants or teams must submit an original space science project based on the themes and challenges specified for their age category
  • Contestants on Pioneers category may submit a digital entry between 1st September 2016 and 31st March 2017.
  • All entries submitted must be the contestants’ own work, carried out specifically for this contest.
  • Pioneers’ projects will be evaluated in three stages:
    • Stage 01
      Nationally, by a panel of judges from the participants’ own country, based on the online submissions. This will take place in April 2017.  Submissions from non-EU countries will be assigned by the organizers to one of the panels of judges, according to the language selected by the participants.
    • Stage 02
      Regionally, by a selection of judges from the previous round, drawn from all participating countries in the region. Judging will take place at the semi-finals held in each region, which bring together all the national winners within the region. Teams may be invited to the regional events on the condition that their entry is marked with at least 10 out of 20 in the first phase. The teams advanced to the semi-finals will present live their entries to the judges.  The regional semi-finals will take place between 30th April and 30th June 2017. Exact dates per region will be announced in the Odysseus website.
    • Stage 03
      Internationally, by a panel of prominent space researchers, educators and science personalities. The winners of the regional finals will meet in Toulouse, France to present their projects to the judges. The international final will take place in July 2017. The exact day of the final event will be announced in the Odysseus website.
  • During the judging at national level, the number of winners going onto the next level will be determined by the relative populations of the competing countries and the number of submissions from each region and in each theme category. The Odysseus II Contest organizers will announce how many teams from each country will advance to the semi-finals, via the official website.  The ten winning teams at regional level will participate in the International Final.
  • During the selection of the best projects at European level, honours are awarded without regard to the citizenship or residency of the finalists. i.e. there are no pre-set quotas based on population or rates of contest participation.
  • Judges of the space projects will award points for the following criteria
    • Academic excellence (accuracy, difficulty)
    • Relevance to the stated theme
    • Problem-solving abilities
    • Originality
    • Social relevance
    • Presentation
    • Technical merit and practical skills
    • Sustainability and environmental awareness
  • Each team will be provided with a summary of the judges’ evaluation of their project at the time of judging. Later requests for further evaluations cannot be honoured.
  • Judges will also distribute a number of special citations to non-winning teams at each stage, for example:
    • Most eye-catching graphic
    • Most original problem
    • Most professional presentation
    • Most artistic submission
    • Best use of music in a science project
    • Most innovative approach to the stated theme
    • Most environmentally aware project
    • Most innovative solution to the problem
    • Best usage of space knowledge basics
  • Every Pioneer team will receive a diploma to show that they participated in the Odysseus II contest, as will the teacher-leaders of every team.
  • All winning projects will be displayed in full in the Hall of Fame area of the Odysseus II website and team member contestants will be awarded a winners’ medallion.
  • It is free to participate in the contest and travel expenses (plane and train tickets, accommodation, set meals and insurance) for participating in regional and European finals will be covered by the Odysseus II Contest organizers, within reasonable limits. Paid trips to the regional and international finals are for one teacher-leader and a maximum of three contestants.
  • At both the regional and international finals the finalists will participate in a number of space-based activities, events and trips, arranged and paid for by the Odysseus II Contest organizers.
  • It is the responsibility of the team’s teacher-leader to provide full and correct information about each participant in the team via the Odysseus II Contest website registration form.
  • Each participant under the age of eighteen (18) must provide a signed parental consent form to participate in the contest.
  • A parental consent form for travel and participation in the regional and European finals must be provided for each contestant under the age of eighteen (18) participating in the finals.
  • It is the responsibility of the team teacher-leader to provide the organizers with signed parental consent forms for all their contestants.
  • Each teacher-leader may lead up to 4 teams in the contest.
  • Opening of registrations
    1st September 2016
  • Submissions deadline
    31st March 2017
  • Regional semi-finals
    30th April 2017 – 30th June 2017
  • Final phase – Award Ceremony
    July 2017


Step One

Register to the Odysseus contest and fill in the registration form and accept the rules of the Contest!


Step Two

The second step for the team is to choose the topic and the type of their project.

Each entry must address a single topic. However, contestants can choose the subject area with which they tackle the topic: electronics, physics, chemistry, art, design, architecture, psychology etc. can all be used to illuminate an aspect of the chosen topic.

Contestants can choose a topic from the list below:

Solar System and Space Science

  • Rocket systems why does a rocket fly and how;
  • Exploration of the terrestrial planets – what can we learn for Earth;
  • Manned space flight – how does a person feel several 1000 km from Earth?;
  • Concept of a permanent lunar city – how to survive on the Moon?;
  • Big telescopes in space – why is space a good place to observe the sky?

Europe in space

  • Space missions – are they useful for humanity?;
  • Europe has landed on a comet and on Titan, what are the scientific benefits?
  • One year on a comet (describe what could be expected for a person living there in form of a SciFi);
  • Searching for a second Earth – Europe’s effort in exoplanet research;
  • Europe working with other countries – what is the benefit of collaborative missions?

Human beings on Mars

  • Mars exploration, why is the red planet so fascinating?
  • Compare living one year on Earth and living a year on Mars.
  • How to build an autonomous space station on Mars?
  • Future Mars cities – architecture.
  • Feeling lonely and bored during a 1 year Mars flight-psychological aspects.

Astrobiology-The search for life in the universe

  • What is life? What makes a planet habitable?
  • Write a SciFi for a flight to an exoplanet with a spacecraft travelling with about 90% the speed of light.
  • We have detected aliens – how can we talk to them, in which language?

This list is not exhaustive and any other development of ideas within the framework of the selected themes could be displayed based on the imagination of the students.

The team should choose the type of project they want to work on. This could be an experiment, a video, a prototype, a presentation, or any other set up (View Limitations[1]).

Check the submission template, that is provided by the organisers, which is not obligatory but recommended and which can be found here.


[1] Electronic files uploaded to document each project can include: illustrated essays, PowerPoint presentations, posters, links to videos, links to dedicated project websites, and audio files.

Allowed file formats are:

  • Documents; .doc .docx, .pdf, .txt  .ps  .ppt, .pptx, .pps,  .ppsx
  • Images: *.png, *.jpg, *.jpeg, *.bmp, *.gif
  • Videos:  All videos should be uploaded in youtube or vimeo and the link should be provided.
  • Audio formats: *.mp3 
  • Compression formats: .tar .gz .zip .7z 

The maximum limit on the total size of uncompressed files for each entry is: 20 MB

Each project may cost no more than 300 € in materials to produce


Step Three

The team should make research regarding the selected topic (research in libraries and online, observations and experiments, interviews etc.) and design the solution or the final deliverable of their work. They should consult their teacher-leader, and if applicable also their mentor, about the feasibility and scientific validity of their idea and divide the work between the different team members.

The team can then move on to the development of the project. It is strongly advised for contestants to develop their project in accordance with the Odysseus II contest requirements, to ensure that they avoid plagiarized material and that they provide all the necessary references for their project. Teams should also provide evidence to show how their project is innovative and relevant to the topic they chose. Teams should furthermore use the information and the data they collected while conducting interviews, experiments, observations and research at the library or online.


Step Four

The final step is the submission of the project at the Odysseus II website. Participants can develop and submit their project in any of the twenty-four (24) official EU languages.

Prizes Take the Space Challenge & Win Awesome Prizes!

Grand Prize

Trip to the Guiana Space Centre (airplane tickets, hotel accommodation, meals, insurance, participation in events, visits and guided tours to the Space Centre and other attractions for all team members and their teacher leader)

“European Youth Space Ambassador” diploma.

Finalists’ Prize

One high quality computerized telescope for each pupil member of the finalist teams – winners of the regional semi-finals.

Trip to the location of the International Final, (traveling expenses, hotel accommodation, meals, insurance, visits and participation to events for all team members and their teacher leader).

National winners

Trip to the location of the regional semi-finals (traveling expenses, hotel accommodation, meals, insurance, visits and participation to events for all team members and their teacher leader).

Winners’ medallion.

All contestants will receive a certificate of participation in the Odysseus II Contest.

A cash equivalent cannot be substituted for the prizes.

Assessment and Evaluation Criteria

Submitted projects will first be evaluated on a national level. This will be done online after the closing of submissions, in April 2017. If projects are selected to move on to the regional level, the contestants will be invited to take part in the semi-finals with all the other national winners in their region. In the semi-finals the national winners will present their project to a panel of judges. The regional semi-finals will take place between 30 April and 30 June 2017. The winners of the regional finals will then meet in Brussels or Toulouse for the international final in order to present their projects to a panel of international judges. This final will take place in July 2017.

Projects will be awarded points on the basis of the following criteria:

  • Academic excellence (weight factor 20%)

An entry to the contest demonstrates academic excellence when it provides well-documented arguments, using scientific methods that are credible and verifiable, includes citations, makes critical use of scientific and learning resources and showcases that the participants have acquired knowledge of the relevant contexts of the subject and have a depth of understanding of basic concepts and issues relevant to their project.

  • Relevance to the stated theme (weight factor 10%)

With this criterion it will be assessed the extent to which the proposed project is relevant to the thematic category selected and to the topic’s scope. Relevant theory and literature to the stated theme should be used adequately.

  • Problem-solving abilities (weight factor 15%)

This criterion will assess the contestants’ thinking processes to approach the topic of their entry, in terms of describing the problem, determining the data and information need to be found, planning and carrying out the solution or using alternative solutions and evaluating the selected solutions.

  • Originality (weight factor 20%)

Key criterion for assessing entry’s originality is that the project is the product of team’s work and ideas and that it is unique, or novel, or unconventional. Even if the entry will be based on someone else’s work would still count as original if the team conceives a new idea, makes an original presentation of the problem, adopts a new approach or method or is implemented in an innovative way.

  • Social relevance (weight factor 10%)

It will be assessed how and the degree to which the entry proposes solutions and ideas that have long-term direct or indirect social benefits and / or the degree to which it relates to a current challenge of our societies (e.g. climate change, tightening supplies of energy, water and food)

  • Presentation (weight factor 10%)

With this criterion will be assessed the structure and format of the overall project and if its objectives, methodology and outcomes are clearly presented. It will also assess the logical organisation and linking of ideas, the clarity of expression and the use of appropriate supporting materials and technology (photos, drawings, slides, audio, video etc.)

  • Technical merit and practical skills (weight factor 10%)

An entry demonstrates technical merit when it delineates a clear conceptual framework or theory that anchors the background literature and informs the design and key variables of the project. The evaluators will also assess practical skills, including observation, precision, communication, ability to record and tabulate results, use of technological tools or pure practical skills such as building, soldering, woodwork.

  • Sustainability and environmental awareness (weight factor 5%)

This criterion will assess how environmental issues were integrated into the entry, through, for example, the exploration and discussion of project’s sustainability or through the use of eco-friendly materials or methods for the implementation or the presentation of the project.

Furthermore, a number of special citations to non-winning projects will be given out by the judges at each stage, which among others could be: most eye-catching graphic, most original problem, most professional presentation, most artistic submission, best use of music in a science project or most environmentally aware project.

Each team of contestants will be provided with a summary of the judges’ evaluation of their project at the time of judging.

Tips for Success
  • Understand the Contest
    Read the contest overview and components carefully.
  • Focus your effort to respond to the specific evaluation criteria
    The Scientific Committee consists of professional scientists, researchers and educators. They evaluate each entry against the specified evaluation criteria for that contest. Content, including science accuracy and excellence, will guide their decisions. Try to be specific and do not write something you have not previously verified its accuracy and most importantly do not write something you do not understand. Try to be consistent and do not stretch your project too much. Focused projects are most likely to be successful as they are more thorough and explicit. Try to organize your project so it will have a rational sequence and structure. Also, try to create an attractive layout.
  • Work on the basics
    The physical appearance of an entry is often an indicator of serious effort by the students. Neat, well-edited, readable entries, without spelling errors, make any entry a better competitor. If your entry is an essay it is recommended that it will be proofread by someone other than the creators.
  • Plan ahead
    Make a blueprint of your project, outlining your main course of action. Manage your time so that your work schedule allows time for reviewing and revising your entry.
  • Find a teacher-leader
    An open-minded teacher-leader can be a great resource in evaluating your entry’s design before you begin developing your project, reviewing your experiments, papers, videos, prototypes etc, and being your go-to person for questions and advice. Your teacher-leader can be your science teacher, or a teacher from another school or a local university with experience in your topic or research methods. Remember, however, that the actual work of the project, including the project design and analysis of the data, must be your own work. In case you are not fluent in English and you would like to submit or translate your entry in English and / or you would need help with using books and other resources in English you should also ask a teacher in English to assist your team. Depending on the nature of your project you could involve apart from science teachers, technology, arts and other teachers, who you might think they could help you develop a successful project.
  • Get a team together
    The Odysseus II contest is intended for teams of 2 to 3 students to work on.  Find other members to form a good team and divide responsibilities among all teammates.
  • Seek the support of a Mentor
    Check the Odysseus II webpage for choosing a Mentor from your country.
  • Brainstorm potential subjects of interest with your teammates, teachers or family members and name some subjects in order to identify topics that interest your team.
  • Use the template provided by the organizers to support and document your project.
  • Pick a topic that’s meaningful to you. This will make it easier to focus and spend time on your project.
  • Develop a research question that will help you define what your entry will answer. Ask yourself, about the relationship between the focus of your project and the outcome you are interested in. Think of it as your entry’s objective or hypothesis stated as a question.
  • Draw diagrams or flow charts to organize the information you would collect on space and particularly on your topic and to help you work out how to translate that information into something meaningful.
  • Ask any clarifying questions to the organizers by completing the relevant contact form.
  • Organize tools, materials and supplies for the contest.
  • Find helpful websites on space and sources of relevant material for your project, but stick with reputable and trustworthy sources (e.g. ESA or NASA websites and sites with an .edu suffix). Check the Odysseus II webpage RESOURCES
  • Spend a lot of time gathering background information on your topic.
  • Make sure that any fact you use in your argument is verifiable by trustworthy sources before considering them to be valid.
  • Go in-depth with your research. Try learning scientific concepts and be as detailed as possible.
  • Do not get discouraged if you run into problems while creating your project.
  • Have fun! Enjoy your space adventure!
Frequently Asked Questions

What is Odysseus II?

Odysseus II is a European project, funded by the European Commission.  Its main objective is the organization of a pan-European contest for pupils and students between the age of seven (7) and twenty-two (22) years on Space exploration and Space science. Although a pan-European contest pupils and students from non-EU countries could also participate.

I want to register (a team) in the contest – How do I join Odysseus II?

You can REGISTER by submitting your email and your selected password in the relevant section of the Odysseus II contest website and by selecting the category Pioneers and accepting the rules of the contest. Then you should verify your account by clicking the link included in the email that you will automatically receive. Then you should LOGIN to your account and fill in the details of your team in the registration form. Each team should consist of two (2) or three (3) members with a teacher as leader. Note: each team should have a teacher-leader to support with registration (see the Rules section).

How old do I have to be to participate in the Odysseus II contest?

Participants should be from fourteen (14) to nineteen (19) years old (secondary school pupils, born on or between 1st April 1997 and 31st March 2003).

Do I need to fulfil any additional requirements to register in the Odysseus II contest?

Yes your parent or legal guardian should sign and provide to the team´s teacher-leader a permission form allowing you to participate in the Odysseus II contest and agreeing on the rules of the contest. In order to be eligible to participate your team should register before the 31st March 2017.

Can you help me put together a team?

You can use the Odysseus II Contest blog to connect with other potential participants or include your needs for team members or for specific skills.

Can team members come from different schools?

Yes, team members may come from the same or different schools of the same country.

Can we add more members once we have registered our team?

Yes; the teacher-leader can add participants until the 31st March 2017, while not exceeding the maximum of 3 members per team.

Can I be on more than one team?

No; each pupil can compete only in one team.

In which language do we have to submit our entry?

You could submit your entry in any of the following languages: Bulgarian, Czech, Croatian, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Slovene, Spanish and Swedish. Teams from countries outside the European Union should submit their projects in any of the above official EU languages.

If the entry makes it to the International final of the contest, the team must provide a full translation into English, if the entry was originally submitted in another language.

Do you have any information about how to create an entry?

You are free to select your own topic related to one of the themes of the contest. You can make your own choice about the form and design of your entry (text, power point presentation, video, prototype, multimedia, experiment etc.), but you are advised to include a Project Worksheet in the template provided, describing the background thinking of your project. You are free to submit as many supporting files as deemed necessary. To view some links to relevant sources about space exploration take a look at the Odysseus Library.

How do we submit an entry?

You should upload your entry alongside its summary (in the form provided) by clicking the Submit your Entry link, and following the instructions.

Can my team submit more than one entry?

No.  Each team may submit only one entry to the Odysseus II contest.

What do I do if I forget my password to the Odysseus Platform?

There is a Forgot Your Password link on the Log in page. Click on that and a new password will be sent to your registered e-mail address for Odysseus account.

When do we have to submit our entry?

You need to submit your entry from 1st September 2016 until 23:59:59 CET of 31st March 2017. The Odysseus II organizers recommend that you submit your entry upon completion without waiting until the deadline date.

Can you help my team uploading our entry to the Odysseus Platform?

Yes; you should follow the instructions provided in the Submit your Entry link.  If you have any questions or if you need help with uploading an entry, please fill in the contact form and the organizers will help you by securing that the entry will be uploaded appropriately.

Will we receive feedback from the evaluators?

All teams will receive a summary of the judges’ evaluation of their project after the completion of the assessment process.

What evaluation criteria will be used?

For full details on evaluation criteria, please refer to the Assessment and Evaluation Criteria section of the Pioneers page.

How many teams will make it to the Regional and International finals?

The number of teams going onto the next level of judging will be determined by the relative populations of the participating countries and the number of submissions from each region and in each theme category.  Each EU country will be represented in the regional finals by at least one team.  Teams may be invited to the regional events on the condition that their entry is marked with at least 10 out of 20 in the first phase.  The Odysseus II organizers will announce how many teams are to be found in the semi-finals, via the official website.  The top teams of the Regional Finals will participate in the International Final.

Can I view the other entries submitted in the Odysseus II contest?

Yes all entries could be viewed on the Odysseus II website at the Gallery page after the deadline for submitting an entry.

When will I know if my team is selected for the regional final?

The teams who will qualify to the regional events will be announced after the 20th of April 2017.

How will we be notified if our team wins in Regional finals?

The winning team in each regional semi-final will be announced at the end of the event after the completion of the judges’ consultations.  The finalists will also be announced on the Odysseus II Contest website.

What are the prizes?

For complete details on the prizes, please visit the Prizes page .