17 November 2014

Junior researchers take unconventional routes


Four talented upper-secondary school students were today announced as the winners of Junior Researcher of the Year awards at the University of Copenhagen. Presenting the awards, Minister of Education Christine Antorini expressed her admiration for the participants’ ingenuity. The unconventional projects include a humanities-based approach to problems learning maths and a method for quantifying the effects of intelligence-enhancing possibilities in medical substances and exercise.

All four winners of this year's Junior Researchers Project and Minister of Education Christine Antorini and UCPH rector Ralf Hemmingsen.

The University of Copenhagen today named four upper-secondary school students as the winners of the national talent-development competition Junior Researchers Project 2014. The winners were selected from among the 132 projects submitted – all of which were developed over the course of eight months’ hard work alongside day-to-day school activities.

Minister of Education Christine Antorini presented the awards and was greatly impressed by the winners’ resourcefulness and innovation.

“The Junior Researchers Project gives upper-secondary school students a chance to test their ideas and opens a window on the world of higher education. I’m impressed by these young people’s ability to think outside the box, and all the heard work they have put into bringing their ideas to fruition. This is exactly the kind of innovative mindset that upper-secondary schools need to promote, to give young people a taste for higher education,” the Minister said.

As well as prestigious acknowledgement of their academic potential, the winners also receive DKK 20,000 to complete their project and realise their dream of working in research.

Philosophical approach makes maths easier

Clara Guttman Andersen, winner in the category Humanities.

Many students find that grasping mathematical concepts becomes harder as they progress through school. The Humanities winner, Clara Guttman Andersen, hit upon an unconventional solution – a teaching programme based on the philosopher Toulmin’s celebrated model of argumentation.

“For a long time, I had wondered why it was so hard to posit mathematical arguments. So when I came across this model, it struck me that it could be used to prepare the oldest pupils at lower-secondary level for the mathematical arguments they would need to master in upper-secondary school. The academic approach to the problems was an eye-opener, and it was inspiring to work with real researchers,” says Clara, who is in her final year at Vordingborg Upper Secondary school.

Originality wins

“This winner has come up with an independent and original project that exhibits in-depth academic understanding and confidence. The project neatly balances academic and practical considerations in relation to how students experience difficulties associated with learning in general and with learning something new in particular,” judge Mette Jørgensen says of Clara’s project. Read about the winning project in the Humanities category: Reasoning in and beyond the mathematical domain (In Danish).

Like the other participants, Clara sought out a researcher at a Danish university with whom she wanted to work on the project. The junior researchers acquire academic writing and reading skills in two seminars arranged by the University of Copenhagen and Aarhus University. But it is in the work with the researchers that their ideas are transformed into something concrete. A panel of six scientists from the four categories – Social Science, Health Science, Natural Science and the Humanities – judged the projects.

Minister of Education Christine Antorini and UCPH Rector Ralf Hemmingsen hosted the event.

The other winners

The minister also presented diplomas and prizes to the winners in Health Science, Social Science and Natural Science.

Health Science:

Josefine Lark Jørgensen, Svendborg Upper Secondary School: Quantifying enhanced intelligence when a transfer effect is detected (In Danish)

Social Science:

Kirstine Rysbjerg Munk, Aurehøj Upper Secondary School Democracy’s challenge: The young zappers – from the couch to the polling booth? (In Danish)

Natural Science:

Asbjørn Bækgaard Lauritsen, Frederiksberg Upper Secondary School: Polygon structures in vortices (In Danish)

Project Coordinator
Marianne Bjerregaard
P: 35 33 23 70