The Dionýz Ilkovič Award 2019 went to a physics and astronomy teacher from Trenčín

Published 8.11.2019

Their work does not end with the school bell

Not only the CDI finalist, but all of the nominated teachers have one characteristic in common: for them, the classes definitely do not end with the school bell. They see their job as a mission and educate and prepare students for domestic and international competitions outside of regular classes. “All of these teachers deserve enormous appreciation. This year, we agreed on the three finalists quickly, but selecting only one of them was very difficult. Each of them could be the absolute winner,” says chairman of the jury Martin Plesch.

The jury finally selected Zdenka Baxová who teaches physics at the Ľ. Štúr Grammar School in Trenčín. However, she is devoted not only to ordinary physics, but specializes in astronomy. She has been helping her students discover the peculiarities of the Universe for nearly 35 years. At school, she managed to build a kind of astronomical observatory and raise top astronomers. “Today, three of my former students are studying at Cambridge. Peter Kosec, for example, was writing articles for scientific journals since first grade and today he is completing his doctoral studies there. I always say that maybe in several years we will have to rewrite physics text books because of him,” Zdenka Baxová praised her students.

The second finalist, Angelika Hanesz, teaches information technology in the small village of Buzica near Košice. After school, she builds unique Lego robots with pupils at the Primary School with Hungarian as the language of instruction, but also at a secondary school in Košice. With her students she then participates in robotics competitions all over the world. In 2018, they even filed a patent application for one of their robotic solutions. They have invented a method for detecting wall water pipe failures.

For nearly 50 years of his career as a teacher, Ivan Hnát raised many chemists, scientists, medical students and pharmacists. Approximately 10,000 students passed through his hands, he wrote several textbooks and collections of tests and worked for the Chemistry Olympiad right from the first year of its existence. Mr. Hnát is not resting in retirement either. He is working on a Collection of Chemistry Calculations and Tests intended for those preparing for entrance tests to universities. Even today he teaches students in private and both students and teachers call him when they are having difficulty solving demanding calculations.

The third edition brought some changes

The Dionýz Ilkovič Award has been awarded for the third time. In the first two years, it was awarded by the Slovak IT company PosAm, which was the initiator of the project. This edition was organized by the newly-established Dionýz Ilkovič Foundation (NDI). The foundation aims to support teachers of natural sciences devoted to out-of-school activities to a wider extent, in a way that would go beyond mere granting of the award. “Our desire is to help create such conditions in Slovakia that would motivate teachers to be fully devoted to developing talented children, where as many young people as possible would be interested in natural sciences,” says Marián Marek, chairman of the NDI Board of Directors. Activities of the Foundation are aimed at natural sciences including mathematics, physics, information technology, chemistry or even robotics. “Natural sciences move our society forward. They are behind every huge invention. If Slovakia does not want to be merely a country of assemblers, we have to support children who are interested in natural sciences. They are the ones who will bring added value in the future and, if we manage to keep them in Slovakia, then they will ensure jobs as well,” adds Robert Mistrík, member of the NDI Board of Directors.

The third annual edition of the Dionýz Ilkovič Award saw 36 high-quality nominations for 32 exceptional teachers, which is more than in the previous year. Finalists selected by professional jury will remember the ceremonial evening also thanks to a statuette named Flame of Knowledge, produced by academic sculptor Eva Ptfajová, daughter of Dionýz Ilkovič, as well as donations in kind. They also shared a bonus payment of € 6,000.

Award named after Professor Ilkovič

The award is named after a significant Slovak scientist. In 1934, Dionýz Ilkovič derived the relation between the polarographic diffusion current, the concentration of a solution and the characteristics of a dropping mercury electrode. Today it is known as the Ilkovič equation. At that time, he was a member of the team lead by Nobel Prize winner Jaroslav Heyrovský. Professor Dionýz Ilkovič was a significant Slovak physicist and world-renowned scientist whose teaching style became legendary for his students and colleagues.

The Dionýz Ilkovič Award is intended for teachers and non-educating staff members from primary and secondary schools who are devoted to out-of-school activities related to mathematics, physics, information technology and chemistry.

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