Polish teenagers awarded top prizes at EU science competition

Polish students claimed the top awards at the 2015 European Union Contest for Young Scientists (EUCYS) held in Milan. Michał Bączyk from Ostrów Mazowiecka, the winner of the contest’s first prize, tells Polska.pl about the research he is undertaking.

All of the Polish students who showcased their research projects at the EUCYS in September returned to Poland with awards, including first and second place as well as several special distinctions. The competition was fierce: over 100 projects were submitted, from a couple dozen countries. In the 26-year history of the EUCYS, Poland has claimed 50 awards, the second highest number after Germany.

Dominika i Asia The European Union Contest for Young Scientists is a prestigious competition organised by the European Commission to recognize the best projects developed by young scientists. In 2015, Polish experts within the fields of bio-technology, astronomy, biology and physics reached the finals of the contest. One of the three main awards (with a prize money 7,000 euros) was awarded to Michał Bączyk i Paweł Czyż – physicists in their final year at the Stanisław Staszica high-school in Warsaw whose research project focused on a carton of milk. The Poles set out to find out why milk poured out of a carton sometimes comes out more forcefully and sometimes less, often leading to it being spilled. The same thing happens when water is poured from a full plastic bottle into a glass. Until now, no one had looked into this occurrence, which is termed oscillation. Michał and Paweł were the first – and they created their own bottled oscillator, for which they received the EUCYS award.

Also recognised by the EUCYS jury were teenage scientists Dominika Bakalarz (18) from Opole and Joanna Jurek (19) from Piotrkow Trybunalski, who were given one of the top three awards alongside a special distinction in the form of a work placement at Bocconi University in Milan. Specialising in bio-technology, they created a project called Origami BioBandage, a mathematical model for bio-implants: a surface is coated with stem cells and used for the treatment of osteoporosis-related bone defects. These stem cells are able to adapt their shape, much like origami, in order to adapt to areas of concern, which they cover with new tissue.

Sara “This project has allowed us to combine my passion for origami and mathematical modelling with Asia’s interest in biology,” says Dominika Bakalarz. “At first, we found it difficult to believe that cells could take on origami-type shapes. However, after creating mathematic models it turned out that it is indeed possible and that they in fact adapt to the shape of the bone. Our design also allows us to use the patient’s details in order to tailor our models to each individual case.

Paulina Drożak from Lublin received a special distinction: a visit to the European Southern Observatory (ESO). The 18 year-old has been carrying out advanced research in the field of astronomy, comparing temperature anomalies on the Earth to selective characteristics of the sun.

The 19 year-old Sara Berent from Gdynia, a biology expert, was awarded the Expo 2015 Prize in addition to a visit to the Joint Research Centre (JRC) in Italy. Berent has done research on the effect of essential oils on mushrooms and bacteria, with the purpose of finding out if the oils could play a useful role in the protection of plants.

The organiser of the Polish edition of EUCYS within the European Commission framework is the Polish Children’s Fund.