Research and technology

The Young Scientists Contest

The Young Scientists Contest is directed at young people up to the age of 21 who have an interest in Science, Mathematics and Technology. The film accompanies a group of young researchers to a state wide competition and shows how young people as well as schools and society profit from this form of furthering the rising generation in Scientific activities.

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Author: Dirk Kämper
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The research team accompanied in the film are busy working on a Plasma Crystals project. An example that shows just how demanding the Young Scientists Contest can be. Plasma Crystals are micro particles that, under certain strict conditions, can be rendered into a plasma which arranges itself into a crystaline structure which can be held in suspension in space over an electrode. One of the first experiments carried out by the International Space Station concerned itself with these crystals and in Germany there are only two leading research institutes – the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics at Garching and the Christian Albrechts University at Kiel – that are dealing with this topic. The work on Plasma Crystals is groundbreaking research but it has practical applications in Nanotechnology and Electronics. Solar cells that have been coated with Plasma Crystals are twice as effective as normal cells.

The Young Scientists Contest has enjoyed growing popularity in Germany. In 1965 Henri Nannen, publisher of the newsmagazine Stern, called the contest into life and since 1975 the Young Scientists Foundation has been financially supported by the German Ministry for Education and Research. The German President is its patron. Its aim is to create a long term enthusiasm among the young and through the contest to support and direct them in career choices.

Participants can be any young people up to the age of 21. Students who are not yet 16 take part in the Junior Contest. The contest itself is held in three stages. All participants must submit their projects to the Regional contest. Those who win here are then invited to participate in the State contest and from this they can go on to the National finals. More than 2,000 specialist teachers and experts from the business world assess the entries. All together prizes valued at more than 900,000 Euro are handed out. The most desirable distinctions are those which offer research residences in foreign countries, practical training schemes and presentations at specialist exhibitions.

More than 100 companies and associations implement the contest and donate the prizes. As well as that about 5000 specialist school teachers act as honorary tutors, contest directors and jury members.
Goethe-Institut e. V. 2003
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