After two years of pandemic, the 11th Hessian Middle School Student Academy felt its way back to normality and enabled 60 selected students from grades 7 to 9 from all over Hesse to spend the first week of their summer vacation from July 24 to August 2 at Burg Fürsteneck, located between Fulda and Bad Hersfeld in Germany.
Under the overall direction of Professor Moll and Dr. Weygandt, the students focused on the topics of the five main courses (chemistry, physics, mathematics, humanities, and art & culture) and the five elective courses (religious studies, percussion, contradance, creative writing, and woodworking).
During an open day, parents and invited guests had the chance to get an insight into the impressive program of the academy, to experience the spirit of research and overall, to the see the development of their children over the past few days. With great astonishment, parents and guests noted how the students extended their knowledge and how they successfully translated into results. The topic mix, the alternation between seriousness and fun, and the atmosphere of the castle let the students quench their thirst for knowledge.
The topic mix offered something profound, surprising, new and exciting for all levels of interest. The main chemistry course was dedicated to the history of chemistry and approached famous chemists such as Justus von Liebig, August Kekulé, Amadeo Avogadro and their achievements in the molecular description of matter. The students clarified the question of how chemical compounds can be described in a model and how researchers of the 18th and 19th centuries approached this problem experimentally. The physics course dealt with one dream of mankind - flying. The basis for flight is aerodynamics, and the first experiments sailed out of the tower window into the courtyard in the form of paper swallows. The teenagers experimentally analyzed the influence of force, speed, pressure and temperature on the ability of objects to fly. In the wind tunnel they learned that air resistance and lift affects the wings of airplanes.
Fact and data analysis was the focus of the mathematics class. In their research expedition into the numbers jungle, the students addressed the prevalence of alternative facts in the public domain and looked for answers on how to verify these claims. From the questioning, over the preparation of data to statistical analysis to the drawing of conclusions, the students performed a workflow to answer, analyze and evaluate the claims and strategies of countries in the corona pandemic. Since data analysis by "hand" is very time-consuming, the students used the Jupyter Notebook, a web-based computing platform, and the modular programming language Python to implement their analysis.