Experimental kit wins audience award

Max Planck team receives first place at the Innovationssemester competition

March 10, 2021
A pupil testing the properties of different metals with the experimental kit made of household products.

Vivian Schock, student of dentistry at the Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf (HHU), Antonio Schulz, trainee in materials testing at the Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung (MPIE) and Linda Stange, student of educational science at the University of Applied Sciences in Düsseldorf (HSD), have won the first prize of the Innovationssemester 2020/21. They created an experimental kit for children and young people.

"We want to give young people an insight into the work of a materials tester. Some of the foods we eat every day are so aggressive that they can etch metallic surfaces and are therefore not healthy. Moreover, we want to encourage children's interest in science and research with this experimental kit",  says Schulz, who initiated the project together with his lecturers Heidi Bögershausen and Herbert Faul at the MPIE. The winning project received over one third of the votes in the digital public vote.

From left to right: Antonio Schulz, trainee in materials testing at MPIE; Herbert Faul, trainer at MPIE; Heidi Bögershausen, trainer at MPIE; Vivian Schock, student of dentistry at HHU; Linda Stange, student of educational science at HSD.

"After graduating from school, I trained as a dental assistant and travelled to Mongolia and Peru with ‘Dentists Without Limits Federation‘. I am currently studying dentistry in the third semester. The possibilities of natural sciences and especially material sciences are fascinating. I am interested in the field of bone replacement materials, where innovative materials will be very important in medicine in the future. The applied research at the Max Planck institute in Düsseldorf offers many approaches. It's great that we got the opportunity for this project," says Schock.

"I work with children and young people. Most of them don't know which foods and products used in the household are unhealthy and harmful to the environment. I can imagine using such experimental kits to discuss the risks and dangers of these products with pupils. We should be aware of the products and their effects. It is important to pass on this knowledge to children and young people, but also to parents," says Stange, explaining her interest in the „Innovationssemester“.  About 100 young people from Düsseldorf took part in the „Innovationsemester 20/21" of the Wissensregion Düsseldorf.

A jury with experts from culture, business development and the school administration office of Düsseldorf awarded a second project; the augmented reality art project "Our streets, our artists" by Inge Sauer and Sabine Hegel: "Düsseldorf's reputation as a city of artists and creative people goes back to the beginning of the 20th century. 30 streets are named after artists of that time, but the residents hardly know the names of them. We created a smartphone app that provides more information," says Inge Sauer.

The prizes were awarded by Prof. Edeltraud Vomberg, president of the University of Applied Sciences in Düsseldorf, and Dr. Kai de Weldige, CEO of the Wissensregion Düsseldorf e.V. (MPIE). This year, the ceremony took place as an online event. "I was impressed that the young people were able to achieve such good results even under the current challenges," said Edeltraud Vomberg. "Teaching and academic exchange were not hampered through the need to do everything online. The participants had many innovative ideas." Düsseldorf's mayor Dr. Stephan Keller also thanked the participants: "We are proud that young people from Düsseldorf are giving such great examples of innovative education. During Corona, we need to engage with the younger generation - young people give a lot back to society, as these projects show."

The innovation semester gives young people the opportunity to develop personally through interdisciplinary cooperation. Ten teams led by experts from Heinrich Heine University, University of Applied Sciences in Düsseldorf, Robert Schumann University of Applied Sciences Düsseldorf, the Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung, companies and cultural institutions carried out their projects in winter 2020. The groups, with students and trainees from various disciplines, dealt with current social and entrepreneurial challenges.

The ceremony is available online at www.wissensregion-duesseldorf.de/voting.

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