The Young Researchers/School Students Experiment competitions call for special achievements and talents in the natural sciences, mathematics and technology. The aim is to interest young people in these subjects in the long term and to support their vocational orientation above and beyond the competition.
The national contest is aimed at young people up to the age of 21. Younger school pupils must attend Year 4 at least. Students undergoing higher education may only apply to take part in the year in which they commence their studies. Participants aged up to 14 take part in the junior section of the School Students Experiment competition. Classification depends on the age of the participant on 31 December. Individuals or groups of people may take part. A group consists of two or three persons. Approximately 170,000 young people have taken part in the contest over the last 40 years.
No topics are specified for the Young Researchers contest. Participants choose an interesting problem for themselves, which they then try to solve using scientific, technical or mathematical methods. However, the project must be in one of the seven areas of: the working world, biology, chemistry, geography and regional sciences, mathematics/computer science, physics or technology.
The deadline for applications each year is 30 November. In the following January, participants must submit a written paper of no more than 15 pages. The competition then takes place on three levels: First of all, the young people take part in a regional competition in February. Here, they present their projects to a jury and the general public at an exhibition stand which they prepare themselves. The winners are eligible to take part in the competition at Land-level in March. The winners of the Land competitions qualify for the national competition in May.
Cash prizes, material prizes and special prizes worth over 800,000 euros can be won in each round. These prizes include research stays and practicals as well as participation in international competitions. The best five candidates/teams may take part in a selection seminar for funding from the German National Academic Foundation.
Young Researchers is a joint initiative on the part of the Federal Government, stern magazine, industry and schools. Its Patron is the Federal President. The Federal Minister of Education and Research chairs the Board of Trustees of the Young Researchers Foundation. Approximately 250 partners in industry and science organize the competitions, donate prizes and encourage other activities. Approximately 6,000 teachers support Young Researchers in an honorary capacity as project supervisors and competition organizers. More than 2,000 teachers at institutions of higher education and experts in industry assess the projects.
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