The idea of International Earth Science Olympiad (IESO) was suggested by several Korean earth scientists before 2003. In 2003, Korean Earth Science Society (KESS) organized the First Korean Earth Science Olympiad (1st KESO). 2nd (2004) and 3rd KESO (2005) have been organized successfully.

IESO was adopted as one of major activities of International Geoscience Education Organization (IGEO) during International Council Meeting held in Calgary, Canada during the Fourth International Conference on Geoscience Education (GeoSciEd IV) on April, 2003. IESO Committee (Chairperson: Chan-Jong Kim, Korea) was established with 10 members.
During IGC32 held in Florence, Italy in August, 2004, Eduardo de Mulder, and Ted Nield of International Year of Planet Earth (IYPE) management team agreed to support IESO as one of activities for IYPE.

Seoul IESO Conference was held in November 2004 in Seoul and representatives from ten countries participated and discussed the earth science curricula and the desirable format of IESO. 23 presentations were made and IESO Coordinating Committee was established with 11 members including the chairperson, Moo Young Song. IESO Committee was renamed as IESO Advisory Committee. Statutes for IESO was also finalized. In the first meeting of IESO Coordinating Committee held during the Seoul Conference, it was concluded that Korea offered the best conditions and the most favourable atmosphere for the First IESO. This, together with a great personal contribution by Prof. Moo Young Song, is going to result in the First International Earth Science Olympiad that took place in Korea in 2007.

In 2005, IESO Syllabus Commission (Chairperson: Nir Orion) was established. The first draft of the IESO Syllabus was developed. IESO logo was designed and approved by the IESO Advisory Committee in March 2006.

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