From micro-algae to rotten bananas: Youth doing research at SMA

This post was originally published in 2012. The tips and techniques explained may be outdated.

What were 56 children doing on a Saturday morning at SMA? Clearly, it was time for youth research again. For the fifth time, the regional competition for young researchers took place at SMA on February 11.

Again this year, there was a lot of activity at the company. The first participants began to arrive at 7:30 a.m. sharp. They began working immediately by setting up their stands and experiments and hanging their posters. Even at first glance, it was clear to me that I would only understand about half of it all. 😉 So I made myself useful getting more tape and calming the young researchers' nerves.

25 Imaginative Projects

After being welcomed by the SMA sponsor representative, Wolfgang Weber, a breakfast was served and then things got serious. The judges looked at the stands and put the participants' projects through their paces. Two competitors, Vincent and Darius, carried out experiments with bananas to find out how to best store the fruit to keep it fresh the longest. “A bright location with high humidity, around 70 percent is ideal,” Vincent told me. “But the refrigerator is fine as well.” The other 54 participants also had many exciting projects on display. In the field of biology, Ramona-Laura looked at ticks carrying lime disease. While Janina, Stephanie and Laura investigated micro-algae as a potential source of jet fuel. Pretty impressive!

Waiting for the award ceremony

After lunch in the canteen (spaghetti with tomato sauce), it was time to wait for the jury's decision. Meanwhile, the exhibitions were opened to the public. Grandmas and grandpas, curious parents, siblings and a few other guests came by to take a look and snap a few photos. It was finally time. The ceremony began with a song by the SMA choir before the beaming young researchers received their certificates and awards.
Six research teams also qualified to move on to the next round of competition and will go on to compete in the state competition this March in Darmstadt. How exciting! I will keep my fingers crossed for each team and am already looking forward to next year.

About the competition

In the youth research competition by the “Stiftung Jugend forscht e. V.,” young people show off their skills in the fields of biology, chemistry, geology, astronomy, technology, mathematics and physics. The competitors take part in two disciplines: In addition to the youth research regional competition for 15-21 year olds, participants under the age of 14 also enter their research projects in the “Schüler experimentieren” competition.