"Jonk Fuerscher" Contest 2024; Credit: Fondation Jeunes Scientifiques Luxembourg (FJSL)

On Saturday 16 March 2024, the 53rd edition of the national "Jonk Fuerscher" competition came to a close, crowning 57 research and innovation projects submitted by 83 young scientists (43 girls, 40 boys) from Luxembourg, aged between eleven and 21, and from 29 different schools (secondary schools or universities).

All these young prodigies were rewarded with prestigious prizes, almost all of which consisted of in-depth scientific and cultural activities abroad (Europe, North and South America, West and East Asia, North Africa). These activities always include participation in either an international competition of young scientists (as Luxembourg delegates), a non-competitive young scientists' fair ("Expo-Science"), a summer school or a specialised conference, or even a field trip.

For the first time in the competition's history, the jury also gave the holders of ten outstanding projects ("Top Ten Projects") the opportunity to present their work on stage, followed by a studio interview. The topics thus selected illustrated the diversity and originality of the scientific and technical issues tackled by the Class of 2024:

Krzesimir Hyzyk (eighteen, European School Luxembourg I) Genetic group training algorithm based on NeuroEvolution of Augmenting Topologies and using a logarithmic fixed-point number system optimised for microcontrollers. Through this sophisticated project combining engineering and artificial intelligence, with applications in self-driving vehicles without on-board GPS, Krzesimir will represent Luxembourg at the world's largest competition for young scientists in Los Angeles (USA): Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF);

Moritz Rohner (seventeen, Lycée de Garçons Esch) Quantum Mechanical Description of the Electrostatic Force. Through this theoretical physics project - inspired by the simplifying models of Nobel Prize winner Richard Feynman, Moritz will represent Luxembourg (with the support of Paul Wurth SA) at the major Asian competition in Taipei: Taiwan International Science Fair (TISF);

Maxime Buck (seventeen, Lycée Michel Rodange) Project MIRAS. Through this computer science and robotics project - featuring a brand-new self-assembly design for a swarm of robots, Maxime will also be representing Luxembourg at TISF;

Julia Bringewald (eighteen, Lycée de Garçons Luxembourg) Cosmic Compassion: Exploring the Impact of a Cosmic Perspective on Compassion and Societal Attitudes. Through this social science project, whose results seem to indicate that becoming aware of our place in the Universe could strengthen our altruism, Julia will represent Luxembourg (with the support of the Lanners Foundation) at the major Asian competition organised by mainland China in Jiangyin: China Adolescent Science & Technology Innovation Contest (CASTIC).

Ido Somekh, Leonardo Magnani (fourteen and thirteen, St George's International School) AllergyScan. Through this computer science project, during which they developed an app enabling consumers to detect allergens in food products more easily, Ido and Leonardo will represent Luxembourg at Europe's biggest contest for young scientists, organised this year in Katowice, Poland: European Union Contest for Young Scientists (EUCYS).

Illona Dausse (20, Leiden University College The Hague) Defining Borders for Bisons Within Borderlands: Modelling and Investigating Reintroduction Scenarios for the European Bison in Belarusian-Ukrainian Borderlands. Thanks to this environmental project, which simulates the hypothetical reintroduction of a species of bovid into a particular ecosystem to improve its biodiversity, Illona will be taking part in a directed research programme in the heart of the Swiss Alps: International Wildlife Research Week (IWRW).

Frida Thorsteinsdottir (seventeen, International School Luxembourg) To what extent do the environmental factors of seawater temperature and depth affect the annual sea migration behaviour of wild sea trout in southeast Iceland? Thanks to this environmental project - which analyses the seasonal migration of sea trout in Nordic countries (Iceland, Norway and Denmark) against a backdrop of global warming, Frida will be taking part in the Luxembourg delegation led by the Ministry for the Environment, Climate and Biodiversity at the major annual climate conference: the Conference of Parties (COP29) in Baku (Azerbaijan).

Paula Den Otter, Alexandra Senn, Greta Orzechowski (nineteen, Delft University of Technology, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, University of Twente) Carbon Wise: The Process of Designing an Educational Board Game. Thanks to this educational and environmental project, which examines the entire development of a new serious game aimed at optimising the carbon footprint of travellers in Europe, Paula, Alexandra and Greta will be taking part in the London International Youth Science Forum (LIYSF).

Noémie Rappenne (thirteen, Ecole privée Notre-Dame Sainte Sophie) Franquin et l'automobile, imitateur ou précurseur ? Thanks to this unique project in which she shows how the cartoon hero Gaston Lagaffe was, among other things, the precursor of the particulate filter on exhaust pipes - Noémie will be taking part in the Mostra Nacional de Ciência in Porto (Portugal), which is now part of the Mobisciences programme initiated by FJSL and supported by Erasmus+ (European Union).

Rodion Zaichikov (thirteen, Lënster Lycée International School) Space Lift Project: A low-Power Hall thruster from conventional materials. Thanks to this space engineering project, for which he has built a plasma engine from scratch in his garage, Rodion will also be taking part in the Mostra Nacional de Ciência. As he puts it: "In Hall We Thrust"…

Given their young age, the last two Top Ten winners, Noémie and Rodion, received special congratulations from the jury. The jury was also keen to award a "Project we love" prize to another, even more precocious candidate, John Lindsey (twelve, International School Luxembourg), for his "Jerebee" project: a new artificial intelligence programme trained to detect a highly destructive parasitic mite in beehives (the varroa mite). John will thus gain access to one of the prestigious Scienteens Academies organised on the Belval campus.

The RTL "People's Choice" award, which takes into account the votes cast by Internet users for the videos submitted by the participants before the competition was given to Harald Sveen (fifteen), Can Sayinatac (fourteen) and Konstantin Lek (fifteen) from the International School Luxembourg for their medical project: "What is the optimal timing for antibiotic administration to minimise resistance development while maximising therapeutic effectiveness?”

All the highlights of the 2024 competition (jury sessions, Top Ten sessions, open days, prize-giving ceremony) can be found on the FJSL livestreams page: https://www.youtube.com/@fuerscher/streams. The full list of prizes presented is also available on the FJSL website: https://fjsl.lu/activities/njfcontest.