United States Earth Science Organization

Training Camp

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The USESO Training Camp is a week-long residential program for U.S. high school students that occurs annually in June.

This program is the only path through which students are selected to represent the United States at the International Earth Science Olympiad (IESO).

Students selected to participate in this program take part in:

  • Theoretical and practical exams assessing knowledge of the Earth and environmental sciences (examples in Resources > Past Exams)
  • Team research projects that involve data collection, analysis, and presentation of research results
  • Outdoor field trips designed to enhance understanding of theoretical Earth science knowledge and expand practical field skills
  • Discussions with distinguished faculty and industry experts doing work relevant to the Earth and environmental sciences

At the conclusion of the program, we announce the 8 students selected for the U.S. Earth Science Team at the IESO occurring later in the summer. Additional details can be found below and on the Programs > Calendar page.


All Training Camp participants must be:

  • Selected to attend from the National Open Exam
  • Attending grades 9-12 in the spring prior to Camp
  • Fluent in English, the official language of the IESO
  • A permanent resident of the United States (i.e. a U.S. citizen or green card holder)

Students do not need to have a U.S. Passport to participate in USESO programs or the IESO.

National Open Exam

Participants for the Training Camp are chosen from students achieving outstanding scores on an exam of general Earth science (past exams are available for practice).

Up to 40 students are invited to our training program each year based on their performance on the open exam. More information about our exact selection criteria can be found in our FAQ. Students younger than ninth grade may also take the exam for experience, but cannot
attend the training camp.

The link to register for the next Open Exam will be posted on our home page.

Training Camp

Up to 40 qualifying students from the National Open Exam may attend the Training Camp. Students are expected to come with a solid foundation in Earth science in order to be well-prepared for camp activities. Throughout the program, students will:

  • Go on field trips and conduct field investigations
  • Attend lectures from guest speakers
  • Conduct research using self-collected data and online resources
  • Work in teams on projects similar to the challenges at the IESO

Further, students are given exams to assess knowledge and skills. Upon conclusion of camp, scores will be considered along with the team investigations to select the members of the U.S. Earth Science Team.

U.S. Earth Science Team & IESO

Each year, the top four qualifying students from the Training Camp are selected for the U.S. Earth Science Team (international team). 

In most years, up to four additional guest students may travel with the team. While guests cannot qualify for individual medals, they may participate and earn awards in international team events where students from up to ten countries collaborate on projects examining real-world issues. The USESO recognizes the importance of the IESO international team events for representing global work essential in the field of earth science.

USESO has attended the international event since the first IESO in 2007. Past USESO students have achieved numerous gold and silver medals in the individual competition, the best practical exam, and more international team awards than any other country.

Gallery - Camp & IESO