The Petnica Science Center (PSC) is the independent non-profitable educational organization founded to help and support young people (age 14-19) who demonstrate an interest in science, technology and research that goes beyond regular school curricula. Since 1982 it is a national-level institution with a number of regional and international activities. Today, the Petnica Center is among leading institution in the world in the field of parallel-to-school sci-tech education of gifted students.
Educational programs in Petnica are not linked with school curricula and common models of school teaching. Targeting students of age 14-20, Petnica Center’s educational activities cover a broad spectrum of disciplines in sciences, humanities, and technologies. The main goal is to help students to develop reasoning and observation skills, data collecting methods, argumentation and communication techniques, as well as abilities for continual learning and improving knowledge and experiences. PSC encourages participants to think free, to be logical and critical in reasoning, to cooperate with partners from different regions and cultural background.
The majority of the activities are designed for teenagers, but there also is a variety of programs for university students and school teachers. Each year about 2000 students from Serbia and abroad take part in some of 120 training courses, workshops and science camps in the Petnica campus. PSC has gained recognition for its innovative methods in science education, as well as for significant results in identifying and educating gifted and talented children and students.
Sci+Tech training activities cover a broad spectrum of disciplines such as Astronomny, Life-sciences, Electronics, Psychology, Chemistry, Geo-sciences, Physics, Anthropology, Archaeology, Mathematics, Industrial Design, Linguistics, etc.
The main goal of educational activities is not to emphasize the scope of memorized facts, names, definitions, etc, but to improve students’ thinking skills, rational and logical thinking, recognizing problems, to teach them how to design and manage projects, how to make functional conclusions, how to find reliable information sources, as well as to upgrade their communication skills.
There are various types of courses, science camps or workshops in the Petnica Center. Some activities take 3,4,5, up to 15 days (during summer). The same student can come in Petnica once in a year or two, three, even four times attending different and complementary activities. He or she can apply for the next year to take part in more complex and demanding activities or to experience individual or team-based science projects.
Apart from relatively small permanent staff and technical services, there are more than 800 enthusiastic guest teachers, lecturers and mentors who are carefully selected from over hundred university schools, laboratories or industrial R&D centers.
Today, more than a half of them are Petnica Center’s alumni. The Petnica Science Center is always ready to share its experience and ideas with partner organizations. From time to time the Petnica Center hosts training courses for groups of teachers from Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia, Russia, Israel...
It also promote active co-operation between similar project abroad such as exchange of students with colleagues in Germany, Croatia, Italy, Israel.
Parallel to regular training programs for teenagers, the Petnica Center hosts a number of specialized meetings and conferences, mostly focused on young scientists
and PhD students. During 2013-2016 such activities successfully covered a broad spectrum of topics – from Archaeology, Astrophysics, Analythical Chemistry,
Bio-medicine, Psychology, Life-sciences, up to Musicology, Photography, Design and 3D printing.
There heart of the Petnica Center is in its laboratories. There are seven excellent equipped laboratories – for Biology, Bochemistry, Chemistry, Geo-sciences, Archaeology, Physics and for Electronics&Computer Science, plus Astronomical observatory.
Each lab can serve various purposes, such as experimental demonstrations, teacher training, students’ individualized practical training, research projects, etc.
The Petnica Center’s hotel (dormitory) can host up to 170 people in comfortable rooms (bathroom, AC) with 1-4 beds. Within the hotel there are a dozen of meeting and lecture
rooms. The restaurant can serve up to 250 person at the same time. Petnica Science Library is mukltifunctional facility with collection of about 50,000 books and magazines and thousand of digital publications.
The Center is located in Petnica, a village about 7 km (4 miles) east of Valjevo (W. Serbia), 70 km (40 miles) SW of Belgrade. The place was selected beacuse of its natural attributes and its suitability for performing various practical and out-of-door activites.
Valjevo is a city with a attractive position and traffic connections (see map). The railroad connects it with Belgrade, Montenegro and the Adriatic coast.
What makes the Petnica region famous is the Petnica Cave. The cave had considerable influence on early human settlements in the area. It is composed of complex underground canals, spacious halls, stalactites, stalagmites, an underground river and a lake, and rare plants and animal life. It is also a rich paleontological and archaeological site of an excavated Neolithic village with a culture more than 7,000 years old.
Only four kolometers SW from Petnica is the Gradac River which has been placed under special protection beacuse of its beauty and preserved nature, a number of caves, rare flora and fauna, and clean, potable water.
On the south and southwest, Petnica is surrounded by the Valjevo mountain range (1,000-1,400 m) covered whit dense forests, meadows, and numerous rivers and forges.
A rich, diverse and abundant vegetatiton and animal wildlife, strange geological formation, cultural and historical monuments, villages with rich tradition and the proximity of Valjevo - the major industrial and commercial center of the region, make Petnica the most preferred for implementation of innovative approaches to modern education.