Larissa Gilke

Successful entry for “Jugend forscht” science contest

First and third place in the regional rounds

The pupils of Marianum high school who took part in the “Jugend forscht” competition which aims to promote young scientists can give themselves a pat on the back: four of them conducted experiments in Klasmann-Deilmann’s lab and greenhouse to prepare for the regional round of the contest. And in fact they scored well: Sebastian Berentzen and Christoph Thale achieved third place while Alexander Basenius and Timo Vähning even came in first, qualifying them for the next level, the state-wide round which will be held in Clausthal-Zellerfeld.

The four pupils have been busy working on their projects at Klasmann-Deilmann in Geeste since September 2016. Alexander Basenius and Timo Vähning examined the effect of effective microorganisms (EM) on plant growth, while Sebastian Berentzen and Christoph Thale looked at the impact of aerosols. The youngsters conducted extensive test series from which they deduced their results, which they presented at the regional round of “Jugend forscht” in Lingen.

Their efforts have paid off. The aerosol project earned Sebastian Berentzen and Christoph Thale third place in the chemistry category. It was the death of stone pine trees in Italy that triggered their research. Scientists assume that toxic industrial waste enters the River Arno from where it flows into the sea and subsequently damages the trees when it is carried back as wind-borne aerosols from the sea. The two students from Marianum high school in Meppen wanted to simulate the situation as realistically as possible as a basis for creating their own hypothesis. In our greenhouse they sprayed their test plants – Chinese leaves and lettuce – with a liquid which contained amongst other things butanediol and propylene glycol.

Alexander Basenius and Timo Vähning have qualified for the next round. Their analysis of effective microorganisms as a “miracle cure” won first place in the biology sector, qualifying them for the state-wide round which will take place at Clausthal University of Technology in Clausthal-Zellerfeld. The two youngsters conducted experiments on basil and peppers to see whether EM actually lives up to the claims promised by the makers of this “miracle worker”. Not really, was their conclusion: growth, root and fruit formation in the plants treated with EM hardly differed at all from the reference plants without EM. The addition of effective microorganisms even had a negative effect on fruit formation.

Even before the successful participation in this year’s regional competition, Klasmann-Deilmann and Marianum high school had already decided that these joint projects offer benefits for both sides, which is why we shall be intensifying our cooperation in future. We will not only support the school with the promotion of talented pupils in the form of projects such as the “Jugend forscht” contest. We also plan to offer work experience places as part of the school’s careers guidance activities and to enable projects with a practical focus in our laboratory and greenhouse for pupils in proficiency courses and study groups.