Erika Jivén, Lovisa Eriksson and Evelyn Bankell from Kattegattgymnasiet.

Major interest in regional final for young researchers

Interest in this year’s young researchers (Unga Forskare) project exhibition was enormous, when it for the first time was held at the Universeum science centre in Gothenburg.

It’s only lunchtime and hundreds of people of all ages have already visited the Unga Forskare exhibition, in which close to 70 upper-secondary school students from western Sweden are displaying their projects.

At the 30 separate stands erected in Universeum’s foyer, the teenagers stand discussing scientific topics with visitors and fellow exhibitors. The submissions cover a wide range of topics, from how a mother’s eating habits affect her child’s metabolism, to whether or not serine supplements can combat liver disease.

“It’s great that so many students applied to take part in the exhibition, and it’s unfortunate that we weren’t able to give them all a stand,” says Annika Dahlqvist from the Förbundet Unga Forskare association, who is among the organisers responsible for the Gothenburg exhibition.

The Unga Forskare regional final is organised by the University of Gothenburg, Chalmers University of Technology and Förbundet Unga Forskare, a non-profit youth association that serves as a meeting place for young people interested in science and technology. Other partners supporting the event include the International Science Festival in Gothenburg and Universeum.

“It’s great that we could be here at Universeum this year. It’s such a nice environment and we can reach so many different age groups,” says Annika Dahlqvist.

At a stand close to the entrance, there are three female students from the Kattegattsgymnasiet upper-secondary school in Halmstad. Their project is entitled Detecting an Exoplanet, and deals with planets that orbit stars other than the star in our solar system (the Sun).

“We want to know if amateurs can detect when an exoplanet passes in front of its star ‑ that is, when a transit occurs. Our project focuses on investigating whether we, as amateurs, can do so successfully,” explains Erika Jivén.

The girls use the transit model in their research, a proven method used by both professional and amateur astronomers. The model is based on studying the star’s relative brightness when the exoplanet passes in front of it.

“The light emitted by a star dims when an exoplanet crosses its face. If this dimming occurs regularly, you can assume that the variation is caused by an exoplanet,” says Lovisa Eriksson.

The three students have studied images using digital analysis technology.
“The planet doesn’t emit light, of course, but we can measure the star’s radiance with the help of a telescope,” Evelyn Bankell adds.

All three girls are happy they could take part in the exhibition.
“It’s a really fun experience and it’s cool to see the fascinating ideas that others have. We’ve mingled quite a lot and are very happy to be here,” Eriksson concludes.

Of the 30 projects displayed at the Universeum exhibition, ten progressed to the national final in Stockholm. Other awards were also presented during the regional competition, including awards given by the International Science Festival in Gothenburg and Universeum.

This video presents four of the ten projects that went on to compete in the national final held in Stockholm (IN SWEDISH)