Petnica International

Welcome to the 16th Petnica International Summer Science School

17-30. July 2020.

Petnica International

Petnica International Science Summer School (from now on PI, short for Petnica International) is a program with an aim to enable students interested in science to practice scientific research by working on their own research projects under the guidance of Petnica's associates and assistants. Students also have an opportunity to attend various lectures and laboratory exercises, experience fieldwork and get acquainted with scientific methodology and a wide spectrum of research techniques.

Everyone between the ages of 17 and 21 are eligible to apply for PI (meaning high-school students and undergraduate students). Keep in mind that age is not the main criteria for admission, but motivation for out-of-school learning and a demonstrated interest in science and independent thinking. Don't feel discouraged to apply if you're 16 or 22, we don't choose our participants because of their age, but because of their qualities. School results are not that important here in Petnica, nor are they a discriminative factor – an open and inquisitive mind, cretivity and willingness to engage in intensive work are much more important! Do note that activities require at least a certain degree of English proficiency.

PI has a variety of subjects to offer that give the opportunity to explore a range of topics and disciplines. Participants will attend daily lectures and classroom sessions in natural, technical and social sciences. In addition, each participant will be engaged in a project of his choosing from those offered in this years’ PI curriculum. You can find project descriptions here.

But PI isn't only about work. Summertime offers PI students a hospitable warm climate of Petnica’s natural surroundings, which we try to utilize to the fullest. We visit Petnica Cave, explore Petnica Lake area, and enjoy the sun in the fields and hills surrounding the Center. We also spend time at the local swimming pool and recreation center. In the evenings, we have outdoor movie projections, go star-gazing in the observatory or just sit, talk and sing – someone always has a guitar (but we're not strangers to other instruments as well).

Petnica International was a very enriching experience both on a personal and academic level. Besides promoting a closer contact between students and several fields of science and thus stimulating curiosity for knowledge, it also encourages meeting people from around the globe through games and activities that are a great fun! Petnica Science Center is worth visiting even by the location on its own. The surrounding fauna and flora make it an even more appealing place to visit. I think PI is a great opportunity for high school students who need an insight on science in order to be sure of which degree to apply or to university students in their first years that would like to have more practice in their field! Ana Ribeiro

About Petnica Science Center

Petnica International Science School takes place alongside our other summer courses, and some of the activities are organized for both PI and local Petnica students. PI students have a chance to see how student projects are usually conducted in Petnica, but they also have the opportunity to spend time with a colorful group of young people with various interests – and not only when it comes to science. Petnica students are known for their wide spectrum of interests - they are talented in sports, music, theatre, they enjoy movies and literature and they are very sociable and open for meeting new people and finding out more about different cultures. They themselves come from different social, educational and religious backgrounds in Serbia, and they are interested in different areas of research, so they enjoy and value the cultural and scientific variety that Petnica has to offer.

Petnica Science Center is the biggest and, probably, the oldest independent nonprofit organisation for extracurricular, informal science education in South Eastern Europe. Since 1982, Petnica has organised more than 2,500 programs (seminars, workshops, research camps…) for nearly 50,000 students and science teachers in 15 disciplines of science, technology and humanities. The unique inspirational atmosphere the Petnica Center provides is a perfect place for a Summer Science School since it encourages interest in science in a relaxed environment.

Petnica International Science School takes place alongside our other summer courses, and some of the activities are organized for both PI and local Petnica students who are known for their wide spectrum of interests - they are talented in sports, music, theatre, they enjoy movies and literature and they are very sociable and open for meeting new people and finding out more about different cultures. They themselves come from different social, educational and religious backgrounds in Serbia, and they are interested in different areas of research, so they know how to enjoy the cultural and scientific variety that Petnica has to offer.

Petnica Centre has functional and complex facilities in the village Petnica near Valjevo (West Serbia). There are fully equipped boarding facilities (150-bed Dormitory plus Restaurant), various types of classrooms, laboratories, a big and multifunctional library with a carefully designed Teaching Resource Centre, etc. Accommodation for PI will be offered in rooms with three beds.

"My stay at Petnica came at an important moment in my academic development and being around so many people that were deeply passionate about science and intense inquiry helped me understand why research matters. A free exchange of ideas, getting to know others in an open environment and the daily support from the organizers: all elements I look back upon with fondness, even 5 years later. Petnica is a truly unique place and a source of inspiration!" Miguel Borges



During PI, students will be listening to many interesting lectures from various fields of science. Our lectures cover topics from life sciences, physics, astronomy, humanities, engineering, philosophy of science and many other areas of science. Our lecturers are usually eminent scientists who are currently tackling burning issues in their fields and who can convey their first-hand experience regarding science and humanities.

Student Projects

Student projects are the heart and soul of Petnica International. Depending on student's preference, they can be individual or group research projects that students choose according to their own interests. Every project has a dedicated mentor, an expert in the field, under whose guidance you will learn relevant methodology and practical skills required for scientific research. You will learn how to conduct experiments, process the data, present your results and various other skills, depending on a specific area of your interest. If you have any of your own ideas considering the possible topic of your project, don’t hesitate to write to us. We’ll be glad to hear your ideas and help you shape them into an achievable scientific goal. You can find a list of this year's projects here.


PI is not only about work and science, it is also about having a good time and exploring Serbian culture and nature. During PI, our students usually visit Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, as well as the city of Valjevo, which is near Petnica Science Center. Furthermore, we engage in hiking trips and enjoy scenic nature that Petnica is surrounded by. We visit Gradac river, Petnica cave and Lake Petnica.

Other Activities

During PI there’s a lot of what one may call extracurricular activities, but we like to view them as an unseparable part of the whole experience. Outdoor movie projections, sport activities, trips to the Petnica pool complex, various workshops, music nights and stargazing are just some of the ways we fill out our free time.

Our Team

Katarina Bujandrić

I like to think of myself as a dancer and an aspiring scientist. I'm a final-year undergraduate psychology student interested in language, particularly in how babies develop it, what can go wrong during that process and how we can help. During my time at Petnica Science Center I have slowly become what we call a GP assistant - doing everything from mentoring psychology projects to facilitating workshops or doing administrative work. I've been a dancer since my early teens, so when I'm not working hard on becoming a researcher, I'm probably at the studio doing ballet or hip hop.

Tijana Grumić

Hello, I’m Tijana. I am a playwright and the head of Petnica International department. I’ve been in Petnica for more than 10 years now, so you might even consider me as a part of the inventory. In the meantime, I’ve graduated dramaturgy studies at the Faculty of Dramatic Arts in Belgrade, where I’m currently a PhD student. When I’m not in Petnica, you can find me in a theatre. I know how to juggle, walk on rope and my favorite fruit is pineapple.

Nikola Mitović

Nikola Mitović is a student of the 4th year at the Faculty of Medicine in Belgrade. He is an assistant in the field of biochemistry, and not so thrilled with writing biographies. In his spare time he trains a goldfish or reduces the population of chocolate cubes.

Ivan Avdić

(currently in human form)

I was born on August the 25th, 1994. at 6Am and that morning, like the morning I'm writing this, I cried because I had to wake up so early. From my hometown of Kragujevac, alongside homemade kaymak, I bring interest for science and research. Since I was a kid I preffered LEGOs to footbal, even though my parents got really mad when LEGO bricks turned into feet-torturing devices. Throughout my studies of architecture, I swapped LEGO blocks for another, a little bit bigger, type of building blocks. At this moment, I'm in my master's degree program at Technical University of Delft. I enjoy popularization of science, visualisation of data and other methods of graphic communication.

Aleksandra Aloric

Saška is a physicist/mathematician by education interested in applying physicist way of thinking everywhere (from the evolution of cooperation and speciation to development of loyalty in financial systems). She loves board games and since early days in Petnica works on game theoretical research. She likes making modular origami, earrings, and outreach exhibitions, she likes thinking of herself as a micro-activist and street art admirer and hopes to combine the two to nudge some societal changes.

To me, PI was an eye-opening experience. I was so much impressed by the motivation and commitment of everyone and the high-level approach to sciences. If you have a cool project, this is the place where to find true support to research it. PI taught me a lot of things which I later could use for applications to world-known universities. I enjoyed it so much that after a few years, I returned as a teacher, to share with younger generations what I had learnt in Petnica.
David Bonson

How to apply

Student Application Form

Download and fill student application form here.

Personal statement

Write a personal statement. List your interests and explain why you would like to attend PI, as well as anything else you think is important for us to know when selecting the right candidates.


Get a letter of recommendation from one of your professors. You can find a form here.


Take a photo of yourself. Nothing too fancy, we just need to recognize you when you come to Petnica.

Mail everything to before the midnight of 30th of May, 2020. (CET)

Fees and expences

Fees and expenses

The participation fee, which covers all of the expenses of Petnica International Summer Science School, is 750 Euros. This fee covers accommodation, 3 meals a day in our restaurant, fieldtrips (transportation during fieldtrips, museum tickets, meals...), tuition and learning materials. Participants are expected to cover travel expenses themselves. Application fee will be refunded in case of cancellation of the seminar.

At this moment we will stick to our schedule of having a summer school in July. However, health and safety of our participants, colleagues and staff are the most important to us in Petnica. In accordance to that, we will be following the measures proposed by the WHO and our government and will keep you posted on the further development of the situation concerning the Petnica International Summer School.

Financial support

We'll be able to provide partial financial support (20% – 50% lower fee) for a number of participants and we encourage applicants to apply for this option. Application for financial aid needs to be supported with the description of reasons, since, sadly, it is not possible for all participants to receive the aid. If you'd like to apply for financial support, please check the appropriate box in the application form, and write a paragraph in your personal statement explaining the reasons.

The applicants will be notified about the status of their application before the midnight of 15th of June, 2020. (CET)

When I think about Petnica the first thing that comes to my mind are the good friends I made there and the experiences we had. Then the image becomes less blurry and I realise that most of these moments happened in a science centre. And quite a lot of them were at night (at 4am when our projects wouldn’t work and we went outside at night and chilled, calling it a day). Then I remember the lectures, the hard work and the passion we put in our projects. Petnica is a lot of fun, but it is also rigorous and very intense, so you learn a lot in the end. Some summer schools (particularly in top US colleges) are more about taking some classes and getting to know the university better, as a means for the university to attract students, but they lack the rigour and focus on research that Petnica requires from its students. I had never heard of Petnica before going there, but this should not mislead you: it’s a demanding summer camp in which you will learn not only scientific content, but also how to work in a teams and prepare and conduct a research project in a limited timeframe. You’ll learn how to work under pressure and have a ton of fun at the same time! Jordi Arnau