They rack their brains about the smallest details, think laterally and stimulate innovation. Year after year, participants in the Jugend forscht competition have outdone one another with amazing ideas from the natural sciences. In 2015 this prestigious “science Olympiad” celebrates its 50th anniversary. Henri Nannen, editor-in-chief of the weekly magazine Stern, founded Jugend forscht in 1965. This initiative gave rise to the Jugend forscht Foundation, which organises the national competition – in 2015 jointly with BASF, the German chemicals group. Roughly 250 partners now support Jugend forscht with an annual sum of over 10 million euros. Not only industry is involved in the competition, but also universities, research organisations, foundations and other associations.
Springboard for international success
Over 235,000 young scientists have taken part in Jugend forscht during the last five decades. For some of them it became the springboard to a successful career. They include Gisela Anton, physics professor and Leibniz Prize winner, and Andreas Schleicher, the father of the PISA study. There will also be no lack of promising talents and fascinating ideas during the 2015 national competition. A total of 196 young people from all over Germany qualified for the final round. Franziska Mey, Ann-Jacqueline Herbst and Pascal Fichtel from a high school in Erfurt have developed a way of making printer ink from renewable raw materials. Three students from Lake Constance are competing with a robot that independently solves Sudoku puzzles. Florentine Mostaghimi-Gomi and Ole Keim from Hamburg are also hoping to win a prize. They studied the fossil-rich marine sediment layer of the Middle Miocene in western Cyprus. There, in the metre-high chalk walls, they found the spectacular skeletal remains of a pygmy hippopotamus, which they excavated and analysed as part of an assignment. All the participants are already entitled to consider themselves winners, because they had to win the Jugend forscht competition in their home state to qualify for the national final.
Jugend forscht competition for young researchers from 26 to 30 May 2015 in Ludwigshafen