33rd Erfinderlabor: Young MINT elite researches for the energy transition

16 senior high school students research at the Institute of Materials Science at TU Darmstadt / Public presentation on 26 May

2023/05/22 by

High-achieving students in exchange with scientists

Participants at the Erfinderlabor 2019

Green hydrogen is considered a key element of the energy transition. Is the technology really an alternative way to manage the switch to renewable resources and slow down the climate crisis? This is one of the elementary questions of the future that also concerns the young generation in particular – and already today. Starting on Monday (22 May), eight senior high school students from all over Hesse will spend a week dealing with these and other topics. On Friday (26 May), the young researchers will present their exciting results at a public closing event at Merck in Darmstadt.

Creative work in the lab

“High-performance materials for the energy turnaround” is the topic of the 33rd Erfinderlabor (“Inventors' Lab”), which is being organised by the Centre for Chemistry (ZFC) based in Bensheim. A practice-oriented research workshop for high-performing and motivated upper school students* who can live out and expand their interest in natural sciences for five days in close dialogue with scientists from the TU Darmstadt (Institute for Materials Science).

Each of the four teams deals with a self-imposed or a given task, which is worked on independently within four days – flanked by lectures, seminars and experiments. The Inventors' Lab thus builds a short bridge between university and school, experts and learners. A jury of experts will give the participants valuable feedback and professional tips for their future careers.

The ZFC cordially invites the press to the public final on 26 May. Venue: Conference Center at Merck in Darmstadt. Please register by 24 May.

On the final day, guests can expect four exciting student presentations from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. as well as a presentation of the ZFC format “Ask the MINTIES” and information on career guidance in the MINT field (mathematics, information technology, natural sciences and technology).

Press event on 24 May at 11 a.m. in the lab

On Wednesday (24 May) at 11 a.m., representatives of the media will have the opportunity to talk to the young researchers in the lab. The meeting point is the Institute for Materials Science at the TU Darmstadt at Alarich-Weiß-Strasse 2 (L2|01). Registration is via .

The participants of the Erfinderlabor are among the best students in Hesse and show a strong penchant for the classic MINT disciplines. They are selected according to strict criteria of the ZFC and have the exclusive chance to deal with current scientific topics in a professional environment. Interest in the hands-on workshop for ambitious young people ranks at a consistently high level: this year 235 pupils with excellent school results from 85 Hessian schools applied, according to Dr. Thomas Schneidermeier, who has been organising the Inventors' Lab in close cooperation with universities, industry and associations since 2005.

“Together, we want to use this tried-and-tested educational format to awaken and encourage young people's enthusiasm for science,” said Dr Thomas Eberle, Head of Educational Partnerships and Strategic Projects Sustainability at Merck. “As a science and technology company, we are particularly reliant on talent and bright minds from the STEM fields.”

Dr. Anne Kikker from Darmstadt University of Technology (Department of Materials Science) underlines the special topicality of the research topic: “More efficient wind turbines, smartphones with new functions, electric cars with more range: for all these, new, tailor-made high-performance materials are needed as the basis of tomorrow's technologies.”

After a technical and methodological introduction, the heart of the Erfinderlabor begins on Tuesday: concrete research in materials science working groups. Thanks to the tried and tested cooperation with Merck and the TU Darmstadt, the students have exclusive access to relevant research topics and gain a vivid impression of the various fields of work in the scientific and technical environment. One focus is on the topic of the energy transition. A guided tour of the plant and presentations by Merck employees will also provide an insight into the multifaceted inner workings of the Merck Group. And the career prospects in the STEM environment will also be illuminated at the Inventors' Lab. The results of the workshop will be prepared for the classroom in explanatory videos.

Since 2003, the non-profit association ZFC has been developing and organising projects in cooperation with schools, universities, companies, associations, foundations and ministries in order to integrate socially relevant topics such as climate protection, energy transition and resource efficiency into the teaching of STEM subjects – beyond the teaching of basic scientific skills – and to interlink them with traditional school content. This is intended to provide a technical basis for individual opinion-forming and to convey perspectives for new occupational fields in a very vivid and concrete way.

The Erfinderlabor is part of the ZFC initiative "School 3.0 – MINT for Future. It aims to improve the professional orientation of pupils in the MINT environment by integrating socially relevant scientific and technical topics into regular lessons.