„Natural Science Olympiad (Olimpiadi delle Scienze Naturali)“


Contact data

Country coordinator

Professor Isabella Marini

Hosting institution

ANISN - Associazione Nazionale Insegnanti di Scienze Naturali
via Mezzocannone n.8
80134, Naples
Campania region, Italy


Appointing institution

Ministry of Education - Directorate general for school systems

Viale Trastevere 76/a 00153 Roma

Organization & structure

ANISN - Associazione Nazionale Insegnanti Scienze Naturali ANISN has been selected and appointed by the Ministry of Education as the sole resposible of the NBO, IBO Italy and IESO Italy.

ANISN, a body accredited by the Ministry of Education as responsible of the National Olympiad and the participation in the IBOs, participates every three years in a selection of the Ministry of Education that recruits the institutions that will manage the competitions of excellence, checking that they have all the necessary requirements to be able to effectively manage the competition. If selected, the Ministry of Education renews the accreditation for three years. ANISN has been the founder of the National Science Olympiad and the selected institution by Ministry of Education since 2002.

ANISN is a recognized Italian association with legal entity, founded in 1979 recognized by MIUR – Ministry of Education and Research - both as qualified institution for the training of teachers (DM. 177/00 Article 4 - Directive 90/03 art. 6, 7) credited with prot. N° 1877 (DD / 5) / RU / U of 27/02/2009) authorized to set up institutional training courses for Natural Science teachers and as a MIUR external entity able to organize and conduct initiatives for the identification and promotion of excellence in Italian schools.

ANISN is a non-profit Association with more than 2000 members (science teachers, trainers, scientists, didactic researchers) organized in 26 local sections distributed in all Italian regions. ANISN activities are many (designing, supporting, implementing didactic resources; organizing working groups, national and local teacher training courses, seminars and meetings), all based on strongly motivated members that aim to improve and support continuously the quality and dissemination of Scientific Education in Italy, with the awareness of the crucial role that teachers and science teaching in school play in scientific culture and in the process of development of the students as science active citizens. In more details, ANISN organizes National and International (International Biology Olympiad - IBO; International Earth Science Olympiad - IESO) Science Olympiad for students of lower and higher secondary schools with the involvement of hundreds teachers and thirty thousands of students. ANISN continually collaborates in projects and plans for Science Education with many institutions (MIUR and peripheral organs, INDIRE, INVALSI, Accademia dei Lincei, Academia dei XL, Universities, Museums, Science Centers, EMBL – ELLS), public and private entities that have a significant interest in Science Education. ANISN has been involved as partner in many European Projects (FP6; FP7; Comenius) on different topics related to Science Education in formal contexts (such us Edu – Geo; Evolution Megalab, Volvox Project, OIKOS, Science on Stage).

Since 2008 ANISN is very active in CPD (Continuing Professional Development) aiming to improve IBSE (Inquiry Based Science Education) in Italy. A close cooperation with several European partners well-established IBSE reference centers have been established, especially with the French Foundation La main a pate. In the last ten years ANISN has been involved as partner in specific European projects (Fibonacci, SUSTAIN, Ark of Inquiry) and actually is partner in AMGEN Teach project as Italian National provider for CPD IBSE courses (2014 – 2018); LINKS project (2016 – 2019) and International program AMGEN BIOTECH EXPERIENCE (ABE) (2016 -2020) in cooperation also with Harvard University. At National level ANISN is the coordinator of School for Inquiry project, a framework agreement with the Ministry of Education and the research center Stazione zoologica Anton Dohrn in Naples. In cooperation with the Accademia dei Lincei ANISN coordinates the Scientiam Inquirendo Discere Program in 10 Italian regions.

In 2010 ANISN was awarded with a presidential medal by the Italian Republic President, Giorgio Napolitano, for the high level quality of its activities and the strong and continuous engagement in improving teachers CPD and dissemination of scientific culture in Italy. The know-how transfer is implemented also by an updating web site , the individual web sites of the local sections, the publication of three magazines ("Natural Sciences in the school", the "Il Bollettino Campano" and "NATURALMENTE") and the electronic matrix newsletter ANISN NEWS.

ANISN website:

ANISN Olympiad website:

Number of students in first round

20.000 - 40.000 students of high school


We have four rounds:

1° round: school competition (multiple choice, essay, oral). Each school is free to select the students according with theirown criteria. Each school is free to train students also during extracurricular hours.

Location: school

2° round: regional competition among the winners of the 1st round ( multiple choice, open questions) . The Olimpiad ANISN group is in charge to elaborate the tests. The test are organized in the same time in parallel in all the Italian regions. Local ANISN Olimpiad responsibles ( 24 people) are in charge of the organization and the cooperation with the National ANISN group work.

Members of the National ANISN group work are: High school teachers, researchers, university teachers and university students who have won previous national and international competitions as part of the test preparation team.

Location: University

3° round: national competition among the winners of the 2° round ( multiple choice, open questions).The Olimpiad ANISN group is in charge to elaborate the tests.

Location: University or Research Center ( It changes each year)

4° round: the first 20 students winners of the National competition have an additional practical test organized by IBO ANISN group work. The combined values of the results of the 3° and 4° round will allow to select the IBO team students competitors.

Location: University or Research Center


In preparation for NBOs, students receive training that is determined from time to time by the students' home schools. Estimated time of study: one week

In preparation for IBOs, students receive a one-week training organized by ANISN at universities and research institutions. Estimated time of training + study: one month

Study materials

Materials provided to students in preparation for the national phase are:

1.   Evidence from previous editions of the Olympiad

2.   Annotated tests of previous editions with a guide to solving the questions

3.   Book "Not only test"with the tests of the Olympics from 2002 to 2008

4.   Facebook page dedicated to the Olympics with proposals for borderline topics and questions played

5.   Syllabus of the Italian Olympiad

The materials provided to students in preparation for the IBOs are:

1.   University biology textbook (Curtis or Campbell)

2.   IBO Syllabus

3.   Handouts on laboratory exercises conducted during the week of internship

Awards & prizes

ANISN offers to the national winners of the Natural Science Olympiad - category TRIENNIO - section BIOLOGY a prize consisting in a microscope of the value of about 400/500 euro. There are no prizes for schools. The first 10 winners will be offered an internship of a week at a research center on laboratory experiences in cellular biology, molecular biology, biochemistry, botany and zoology that in recent years has been carried out at the CNR-IGV Portici - Faculty of Agriculture, University Federico II of Naples, in which the first 4 winners will represent Italy at the IBO. Since the competition is recognized by the Ministry of Education as valid for the promotion of excellence, the students at the top of the national ranking are then included in the National Register of Excellence and receive, depending on the position in the ranking, a cash prize and / or bonus spending directly from the Ministry. The positions of the students in the national ranking are divided into three brackets of merit with decreasing value of the amount of the award given by the Ministry. In the case of medals at the IBOs, students receive a larger prize from the Ministry depending on the type of medal.


Type of students

All the students of high schools

School year

September - June

In mid July there are the final exams for the students of the last high school year

Biology hours/week

From two to five hours as Science hours ( not only biology)

Hours of Classes/week

(The question is not clear)

Public Relations


Letters and advices on the web sites ( Ministry of Education, ANISN, others) and sent by mailing list.

Promotion contact

NBO responsible : prof. Vincenzo Boccardi

ANISN President : prof. Paola Bortolon

Statistics over the years
  • 2021: 19600 students from 392 schools (10% of eligible schools)
  • 2020: 20700 students from 414 schools (11% of eligible schools)
  • 2019: 34300 students from 686 schools (17% of eligible schools)
  • 2018: 33100 students from 662 schools (16% of eligible schools)

The schools that participate in the Olympiad are generally more than 600 and belong to all Italian regions. A few Italian schools abroad are also among the schools. Below is the trend of participating schools from 2002 to 2019:The Covid-19 emergence showed a slight decrease in the number of schools enrolled, which were 414 in 2020 (reduced online edition) and 392 in 2021.

At this year's NBOs (19th Edition 2021) there were 19,600 students participating in the first phase held in schools; those participating in the second regional phase held online were 2,612; and those participating in the third national phase, also held online, were 121.

Media coverage

Local and National media


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