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Vol. 33 No. 4
July-August 2011

Conference Call | Reports from recent conferences and symposia 
See also www.iupac.org/indexes/Conferences

Moscow Chemical Lyceum

The Moscow Chemical Lyceum was founded in 1990 as a special school for talented children, offering extended education in chemistry and mathematics. It was established by the Educational Department of Government of Moscow, N.D. Zelinsky Institute of Organic Chemistry of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Zelinsky Institute), and the Moscow House of Scientific Technical Creative Work of Youth.

IUPAC President Nicole J. Moreau (right center) attends a lecture by N.E. Nifantiev (above) of the Zelinsky Institute.

The Lyceum is for students in their last three years of secondary school (9th–11th grade, 15 to 17 years old). With two classes per grade, more than 100 pupils are simultaneously trained. Enrollment in the school is competitive: potential pupils from Moscow and the surrounding area must take special tests in chemistry and mathematics. Typically, only 1 student out of 10 candidates is admitted. Those who are admitted receive a free education. Those who are not accepted into the Lyceum can still take advantage of evening classes. A special program allows any pupil in 8th–11th grades from other Moscow schools to receive systematic training in chemistry.

The main peculiarity of education at the Moscow Chemistry Lyceum is the training students receive in modern research methods. Pupils in the 10th–11th grades have an entire day every week set aside specifically for their research projects. Students have access to a fully equipped laboratory for organic synthesis and physicochemical studies of the synthesized substances. In addition to general chemistry classes, the Lyceum offers several special courses that facilitate students’ understanding of experiments carried out. In addition, regular lectures and reports by leading Russian and foreign scientists on the key problems of chemical science enlarge the outlook of pupils. For example, on 14 February 2011, IUPAC President Nicole Moreau visited the Lyceum and attended a lecture by Nikolay E. Nifantiev of the Zelinsky Institute (a member of the IUPAC Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry Division) who provided an overview of his research on the synthesis of glycoconjugate vaccines.

The Moscow Chemical Lyceum has strong relationships with many research institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences, including the Zelinsky Institute, A.N. Nesmeyanov Institute of Organoelement Compounds, V.A. Engelgardt Institute of Molecular Biology, N.S. Kurnakov Institute of General and Inorganic Chemistry, N.N. Semenov Institute of Chemical Physics, and the M.M. Shemyakin and Yu.A. Ovchinnikov Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry. These connections allow pupils to participate in real scientific projects conducted in academic laboratories under the qualified guidance of researchers at the institutes.

It should be noted that the Lyceum is the first stage of a three-part system of “continuous chemical education” for preparing highly qualified students for scientific institutions in Russia. The system is based on deep integration of the senior school and higher school with research institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences (see figure next page). In the framework of this system, Lyceum graduates enter the Higher Chemical College of the Russian Academy of Science. Courses at the Chemical College are organized by lecturers from the D.I. Mendeleev Russian University of Chemical Technology, Chemical Department of M.V. Lomonosov Moscow State University, and the Russian Academy of Sciences. Students at the college have a day set aside in their weekly schedule to continue the research they began at the Lyceum. Students who continue on with their chemistry education, take post-graduate courses at the research institutes of the Russian Academy. Upon successfully defending their thesis, a student is awarded a degree in chemical science that is comparable to a Ph.D.

Basic scheme of “continuous chemical education” system for preparation of highly qualified specialists for scientific institutions of Russia.

Developed over the past 15 years, this system of chemical education has proven to be very efficient. A key part of its success may be that scientists from the institutes of the Russian Academy of Science are paired with students who they mentor throughout their academic careers. As a result, even students at the Lyceum are often coauthors of scientific papers and conferences reports due to their valuable contributions to research projects.

Another measure of the success of the program is the impressive performance of Lyceum students in the Russian and International Chemistry Olympiads and in the International Science & Engineering Fair in the USA. In addition, the Lyceum is extensively involved with international exchange and collaboration programs, in particular with the Korean Science Academy, National Junior College of Singapore, and research organizations in Japan, India, USA, and other countries. Aside from extensive chemistry education, the pupils of the Lyceum have many opportunities to study other topics, such as foreign languages, music, theater arts, sports, and tourism.

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