Xperimania winners announced: girls come out on top in science competition

Three girls have won the first Xperimania competitions on materials and chemistry. Kristiana A. and Detelina N. from Bulgaria, and Deborah F. from Malta won the two main prizes. The runners-up and special mentions were awarded to pupils from Hungary, Poland and Cyprus. The competitions run via the Xperimania website, which aims to promote science education via fun experiments and topics on materials, petrochemistry and their impact on daily life.

Almost 1000 secondary school students from 18 European countries participated, with 447 submissions in the activities during the school year 2007/08. An international team of teachers made a pre-selection of finalists, while an expert panel selected the overall winners. The panel consisted of top level representatives from the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic), European Schoolnet experts and a representative of the Flemish Ministry of Education in Belgium.

The winning projects were declared interesting and well-structured, with a close connection to students’ day-to-day life. As the jury pointed out:

“What are the properties of the materials used to produce wheels for your mountain bike? Or how do we produce basket ball shoes? These kinds of investigations make science interesting for students and help them to understand how chemistry is part of our daily life.”

The winners and runner-ups will be awarded in a prize ceremony organised in Brussels, Belgium on 16 September 2008 at the Museum of Natural Sciences where they will be given the opportunity to visit the world’s most famous dinosaur gallery. In addition to Xperimania certificates and media players, the winners and runner-ups receive an all-expenses paid trip to the ceremony, and the chance to visit a major petrochemical research centre on the following day. 

A diversity of experiments and historical discoveries

The “Choose your experiment” competition encouraged students to design and try out a scientific experiment in the field of materials and petrochemistry. The jury described Kristiana’s and Detelina’s winning work “Polystyrene like sound isolator” as a “simple but well made experiment, which has relevance to daily life and could have practical use”.

The jury selected the experiment of two Hungarian students, Péter H.and Hajna T. as the first runner up: “Surprise, Investigation and Research in connection with the Polyethylene”. Two Cypriot girls, Xenia C. and Kaiti C. were awarded the second runner up prize for their work, “Greenhouse experiment”.

The “Timeline” competition invited students to explore a historical discovery in the field of materials and petrochemistry. Deborah’s winning work described nylon and its use in the textile industry. It was described by the judges as “very well structured, easy to follow and interesting.” The presentation was based on personal fieldwork and a visit to a local factory.

As the first runner-up, the jury selected the entry “Bitumen” provided by Mátyás M. from Hungary, and the second runner-up prize went to Polish Dawid S. for his work “Petrol additives – antidetonating agents”.

In addition, the jury wanted to give two special mentions: Polish Kinga T.’s work on “Bioplastics” was highlighted with the “Special mention for innovation” and Hungarian Vivien J.’s entry, “Tyre”, was nominated with the “Special mention for link to daily life”.

The finalists’ work showed that the pupils had dedicated a great deal of time and energy to creating the reports covering a wide range of topics. As Pierre de Kettenis, Executive Director of Appe (Cefic Petrochemistry Industry Sector) summarised:

“I was really fascinated by the diversity and high-quality of the entries. The entries are original, creative and pedagogical. They also give an interesting perspective for the future.”

Download here the summaries of the top submissions in the "Timeline of petrochemistry discoveries" and the "Choose your experiments" -competitions (pdf, in English).

The success story of Xperimania will continue this school year. Xperimania II will be launched at the end of September with new activities: “Check out the property” competition and new, multilingual chats. Interested? Visit the website (www.xperimania.net) or send an email to xperimania@eun.org