Xperimania winners announced: European students show how to make science fun

Interest in their baby cousins’ nappies has brought victory for Jack M and Nicola B from Glasgow, UK, in the Xperimania school competition. The 'Check out the property!' competition, run via the Xperimania website, aimed to promote science education with easy and fun experiments on properties, materials and their impact on daily life.

In their winning work, Jack and Nicola investigated and tested the properties of disposable baby nappies, and discovered the material – polyacrylate – which makes nappies water absorbent. The work is well- structured, with a clear research question and answer, explaining a common, everyday material found all over the world.

Almost 900 secondary school students from 20 European countries participated, with 430 submissions in the Xperimania competition during the school year 2008/09. An international team of teachers made a pre-selection of finalists, while an expert panel selected the five overall winners. The panel consisted of top level representatives from the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic), and European Schoolnet.

The jury was fascinated by the diversity and high quality of the finalists’ work. This year one of the main evaluation criteria was the clarity of the submissions - and the combination of fun with making science.

“A scientist needs to tell a good, entertaining story about what he/she is doing”, the jury pointed out. “Even a very complicated subject can be made understandable and interesting with clear words, figures, and easy to follow research structure.”

Besides the five winners, the jury decided to give out two special mentions: The special mention for creativity went to a Hungarian team testing the exciting topic of liquid magnets, and the special mention for the best class project was given to  three teams from a Portuguese school with excellent videos showing how to make science education fun.

The five winners are:

1st prize 2000€:
The Water Absorbent Property of the Disposable Nappy
School: Smithycroft Secondary School, Glasgow, United Kingdom
Property: Binding agent
Students (age): Jack M (13) and Nicola B (13)
Teacher: Linda McCusker

2nd prize 1500€:
The Beauty of Polymer Clay
School: Tartu Karlova Gymnasium, Tartu, Estonia
Property: Heat resistance
Students (age): Margred K. (16), Meriliis K. (17), Indrek V. (18)
Teacher: Anneli Lukason
Powerpoint slides

3rd prize 1200€:
Researching air and cold protection qualities of different fibers
School: Kachalov Gymnasium, Vilnius, Lithuania
Property: Air and cold protection
Students (age): Artur S. (15), Aleksandr I. (15), Jekaterina S. (15)
Teacher: Natalija Romanenkova

4th prize 1000€:
Resistance to the traction of textile fibres
School: IES Castelló d'Empúries, Castelló d'Empúries, Spain
Property: Toughness
Students (age): Èlia C. (13), Elisabet D. (14),
Teacher: Juan Bodi
Powerpoint slides

5th prize 800€:
Investigating plastics capacity for soundproofing
School: Escola Salesiana "Mare de Déu dels Dolors", Sant Boi, Barcelona, Spain
Property: Insulation
Students (age): Marta B. (13), Gemma C. (12)
Teacher: Ivan Nadal
Video

Special mentions:

Special mention for creativity (albeit out of the scope of the exercise):
Folyadék Mágnes (Liquid magnet)
School: SEK Budapest Óvoda, Általános Iskola És Gimnázium, Budapest, Hungary
Property: Oil resistant
Students (age): Annya C (14), Song Y.S. (14)
Teacher: Ildiko Goczi
Video 1, Video 2

Special mention for the best class project for showing three properties comparing different materials in a simple and clear way:
School: Agrupamento de Escolas do Monte de Caparica, Caparica-Almada, Portugal
Teacher: Maria Vieira
- O que conduz a corrente eléctrica? (What conducts electricity?)
Property: Electrical insulation
Students: Teresa R. (11), Maria S. (10)
Video
- A densidade dos materiais e dos líquidos (The density of materials and liquids)
Property: Lightweight
Students: Nuno S.(11), Alexandre V. (10)
Video
- Combustão - Como ardem os Materiais? (Combustion - How do different materials burn?)
Property: Heat resistance
Students: David S. (11), João R. (10)
Video

A booklet (pdf) of the top 50 entries is available on the website:
http://www.xperimania.org/intern/shared/img/xperimania/pdf/XperimaniaII_top50.pdf

Xperimania winners in Glasgow Evening Times, 11 July 2009 (pdf, in English)

For further information, please contact:

Ann Whent, Appe
email: awh@cefic.be
Tel. (+32) 02 676 73 60

Agueda Gras-Velazquez, European Schoolnet
email: agueda.gras@eun.org
Tel.  (+32) 02 790 75 83