Bhubaneswar: Grand final of 16th Tata Steel’s Talent Search for Young Astronomers (YATS) was held on Tuesday at the Pathani Samanta Planetarium, Bhubaneswar. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, greeted the students with a video message and congratulated the top 20 winners of the contest, which was organized in collaboration with Planetarium Pathani Samanta.

More than 77,500 students from 300 schools across 30 districts in Odisha participated in Tata Steel’s annual flagship event in the state. The theme of this edition is “It’s Time to Unravel the Universe”.

The winner will get the opportunity to visit one of the main facilities of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and receive hands-on experience of space science in May 2023.

Present at the occasion included Bhaskar Jyoti Sharma (IAS), Commissioner and Government Secretary, Department of Science & Technology, Sanjulata Behera, Additional Secretary, Department of Science & Technology, Government of Odisha and Director, Planetarium Pathani Samanta, Bhubaneswar, Dr Karuna Kar Nanda, Director, Institute of Physics, Bhubaneswar, Sarvesh Kumar, Head of Corporate Communications, Tata Steel.

Addressing students with video messages, CM said, “YATS has evolved as a platform that sparks young minds to think outside the box and awaken their interest in astronomy. YATS will greatly assist in advancing research in the fields of astronomy and space science.”

Praising Tata Steel and the planetarium for the initiative, Ashok Chandra Panda, Minister, Science & Technology, Public Enterprise, Social Security & Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, Government of Odisha, said via video message, “In coming days, we look up to this platform as a cornerstone launch for emerging space scientists. My best wishes to the 2022 YATS winners and finalists.”

Bhaskar Jyoti Sarma, Commissioner and Secretary of Government, Science & Technology Department, Government of Odisha said, “I thank Tata steel for organizing such a platform for the young generation. Congratulations to the 20 winners and all participants. Such a platform certainly has the potential to improve the quality of education.”

Congratulations to the winners and participants of the 16th edition of YATS, TV Narendran, CEO & MD, Tata Steel, said in a video message: ”Young students in schools who are interested in science are a very important part of our future as India steps to an important stage in its development and growth. We are very happy to be able to contribute to this journey”.

Dr. Karuna Kar Nanda, Director, Institute of Physics, Bhubaneswar held an interactive session during the day with YATS finalists who came from all over the country.

Dr Anshuman Swain, a 2009 YATS alumnus shared his career journey with curious attendees. Dr Swain is currently a Harvard Society Fellow and James McDonnell Foundation Complexity Fellow at Harvard University, Cambridge with additional research appointments at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, USA. A special science exhibition was organized at the planetarium by the Regional Science Centre, Bhubaneswar which captivated the students who visited the grand finale.

YATS, held since 2007, aims to create awareness in the fields of astronomy and space science among students and popularize the great contributions of the legendary Odia astronomer Pathani Samanta to these fields. This platform provides an opportunity for students in rural and remote areas of the State to showcase their talents and rise to the forefront of the space science field.

YATS 2022-23 includes open quizzes that are held physically at school (for students in grades 6 to 10) and written competitions: conducted at school and online (for students in grades IX and X).

While the winner of the open quiz is announced on the spot, the essay competition requires students to write an essay on the topic “Time to reveal the universe”. Essays are evaluated by an independent jury. The top two entrants from each district are invited to the grand finals. After further evaluation based on personal interaction, the top 20 winners were announced.

Over 2 lakh state young science enthusiasts have participated in YATS in the last 16 years and 160 winning students had the opportunity to visit various Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) facilities across India.

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