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Submarine and French Confectioner's Shop—Winners of the Top Class Research Competition Announced

This year’s final stage of Top Class, the All-Russian Competition of Schoolchildren’s Research and Projects, held by HSE University, has come to a close. About a thousand 8th—11th graders from 7 countries and 69 regions of Russia participated in the contest. This is the first time that 3 out of the 25 areas of projects have been presented at HSE regional campuses: in Nizhny Novgorod (philology), St Petersburg (history), and Perm (economics).

Submarine and French Confectioner's Shop—Winners of the Top Class Research Competition Announced

© Mikhail Dmitriev/ HSE University

This year’s final stage of Top Class, the All-Russian Competition of Schoolchildren’s Research and Projects, held by HSE University, has come to a close. About a thousand 8th—11th graders from 7 countries and 69 regions of Russia participated in he contest. The winners and runners-up were announced at the closing ceremony in the HSE Cultural Centre. They received special prizes from partner companies.

This has been the seventh annual Top Class competition. A total of 22,331 people submitted their applications, 3,862 took part in the qualifying stage, and 1,017 made it to the finals (these numbers are over 25% higher than last year).

The qualifying stage was held in 24 Russian cities, with 8 of them hosting this early round for the first time. 1,532 pupils took part in the regional competitions, with a total of 519 winners and runners-up. The final stage was run in a mixed format, with the finalists presenting their works to expert judging committees either in person or online.

‘In today's world, effective employees cannot be merely passive doers. They should be able to develop and implement projects of their own, demonstrating good communication skills and the ability to lead a team, essentially being a social activist. At the same time, universities should prepare students for modern life by providing them with the opportunity to develop these necessary skills and abilities. This is why HSE University is promoting project-based learning, where students are involved in research and projects in a variety of fields,’ said Vyacheslav Bashev, HSE Vice Rector.

He says that those who acquired project and research skills and the ability to drive things forward while at school will be better prepared for project-oriented studies. ‘HSE University runs the Top Class competition to support such students, give them an opportunity to try out the role of a researcher, and gain experience in working on a project from conception to implementation,’ he explained.

This is the first time that 3 out of the 25 areas of projects have been presented at HSE regional campuses: in Nizhny Novgorod (philology), St Petersburg (history), and Perm (economics). Natalia Serova, Deputy Director of HSE University in Nizhny Novgorod, says that this year's Top Class competition brought together the potential of four campuses, providing both an ‘important experience for our scattered university and additional opportunities for participants from different regions.’

Speaking to the finalists, Vadim Radaev, HSE First Vice Rector, congratulated the winners, runners-up, and all participants, wishing them further success in the future. Vadim Radaev believes that Top Class is a ‘truly intellectual marathon and a good start for everyone,’ where a special management role is played by its partners—12 well-known companies and organizations representing major industries, including MIF Publishing House, Ipsos Research Company, EY, RusHydro, and others. Representatives from these companies attended the presentations and gave prizes to the winners at the closing awards ceremony.

Yulia Karmanova, Head of Personnel Development Programmes at AK ALROSA’s Corporate University, said the works submitted for the Technical and Engineering area were incredibly good. ‘I don’t think their authors have had a chance to see our facilities, but just imagine what could happen if they visit  our company. The company believes it is vital to begin supporting such initiatives when their authors are schoolchildren,’ she said.

RusHydro has been a partner of the Top Class competition for two years. ‘My colleagues and I are amazed at how technically developed the projects were. It is a pleasure to observe the discussions and see how the line between schoolchildren, experienced teachers, and company representatives becomes blurred,’ said Tatiana Glushkova, Head of the Centre for Early Professionalization Programmes, RusHydro Corporate University. Prizes from RusHydro were awarded to the authors of projects dedicated to solar energy, smart parks in smart cities, the development of peripheral vision response for relaxation, and a mood-tracking application.

‘Your example proves that science can be interesting and exciting. I am happy to meet such children, and I would like to see your names on the scientific agenda,’ said Anna Aperyan, Head of the Supplementary Professional Education Department at Gazprom VNIIGAZ Research and Academic Centre. ‘It's a delight to see how keen you are on research and how eager you are to learn and develop your competences,’ said Marat Gilmutdinov, Head of the Corporate Culture and Youth Policy Development Centre, TATNEFT.

Tilda, a website, online shop and landing page design platform, presented the runners-up in the Media Communications category with a one-month subscription, while the winners received promo codes for a three-month subscription and access to training materials. Novotrans Group highlighted the Fedorenko Company's business plan for creating chatbots, presented by Vladislav Fedorenko, an eleventh grader from St. Petersburg. He was given a branded gift.

EY, an international leader in the field of auditing, taxation, strategy, transactions and consulting, had the largest number of experts evaluating the applications. The company selected the most promising projects from an entrepreneurial standpoint. Eleven participants in the Entrepreneurship area will receive valuable prizes from the company.

Each of the Top Class categories was supervised by an HSE curator.

Some areas of the Top Class competition allow both individual and team projects. A hydro-acoustic navigation system, developed by Nikita Sklyar, Nikolay Nefedov, and Semyon Svechnikov, pupils of Moscow School 1517, was one of the team projects, and the winner in the Technical and Engineering Sciences category. The team presented a working prototype—an underwater craft and beacons based on a piezo-ceramic emitter to transmit data under water. Members of the expert committee started the engines of the underwater craft themselves using software on a tablet. The boys had already sent their project to a major construction company and received a positive reply saying that it could be implemented in the construction industry.

Maria Buda and Leonid Antonov from Novosibirsk presented another winning team project in the Entrepreneurship category. They decided to create confectionery used in premium products—Italian and French desserts. In their opinion, this segment is currently sparsely populated in Novosibirsk, where mostly offerings are traditional Russian sweets, so there is every chance for this to succeed in the long term.

‘I hope that you have taken to research and you will continue doing research and project activities, enjoying this type of academic work. I also hope that you remember that the starting point for you was the Top Class competition,’ summed up Tamara Protasevich, Director for Occupational and Gifted Student Guidance, HSE University.

If they decide to enter HSE University this or next year, the winners of the 2022 Top Class competition will be able to add points for individual achievements to their portfolio. Winners of the final stage will receive 8 points, runners-up 6 points, winners of the regional competition 3 points, and regional runners-up 2 points. Once any of them become HSE students, they will be eligible for a grant from the President of Russia.

The 2022 Top Class closing ceremony can be watched here.