Millennium Youth Camp participants selected!

Application assignments varied from global food production history to working as dentist for a vampire

The fourth Millennium Youth Camp will include 60 teenagers from 31 countries this year. The one-week science camp in June will present leading Finnish research, study opportunities and Finnish companies to talented teenagers (16 to 19 years old) interested in natural sciences and technology. During the week, the participants, divided into 10 theme-specific groups, will also prepare a demanding science project.

Organised by the Technology Academy and Finland’s Science Education Centre LUMA (University of Helsinki), the skill level of the camp applicants was once again high. This year, there are twice as many participants as in previous camps, and twice as many theme-specific groups. The new theme groups: food sciences, material sciences and biosciences, and urban planning.

Sustainable development is the key idea for the 2013 camp, which will also show in the projects of several theme groups. In addition, campers will discuss a better future with Markku Kulmala, an international leader in aerosol research, and Michael Grätzel, the winner of the 2010 Millennium Technology Prize. Third-generation solar cells developed by Grätzel have enabled an inexpensive way of producing renewable energy.

Making it to the camp through Twilight

The application process for Millennium Youth Camp comprised two stages this year, too. The teenagers first applied directly to their theme group of interest. From among all applicants, the 200 most promising teenagers made it to the second round, and they were tested with scientific assignments according to the theme group. The most popular theme group, biosciences and technology, covered the usage methods and the future of iPS stem cells developed by Shinya Yamanaka, who won the 2012 Millennium Technology Prize. The applicants were free to use their imagination as they were to consider the canine tooth issues of Amalia the vampire.

”It was really fun to read Amalia’s patient records. The assignment proved to be a good way of finding differences between second-stage applicants because they all were very competent,” says stem cell biology docent Kirmo Wartiovaara, who manages the bioscience and technology theme group and was responsible for preparing the theme group assignments.

In the best patient records written tongue-in-cheek, fiction had been combined with biotechnology. ”Even the Twilight books were referenced,” says Wartiovaara.

2013 Camper Nejc Kejzar was inspired by the creative assignment: “When I first saw the assignment I felt a bit anxious but also very excited. I must say I love such challenges, where your imagination and knowledge application come in handy. At the end I realised that I was enjoying myself so much, while writing it, that I wrote it all in a day and a half. I definitely approve of such creative assignments!” says Nejc.

Science needs creativity

The upcoming project work of Wartiovaara’s team also has room for creativity.

”The goal is to come up with weird genetic links. The teenagers’ ideas will specify whether they want to make birches produce spider webs or kangaroos produce octopus ink,” Wartiovaara says.

”Creativity is a major element of academic research. That is why I also use unconventional methods when I teach,” says Wartiovaara, who encourages students to ask questions by giving them liquorice.

The campers will also become otherwise familiar with the combination of creativity and sciences during the week. The camp visitors include Finnish start-ups originating from Aalto University, introducing their innovation and encouraging the teenagers to come up with creative solutions.

The camp week also includes entertainment. The international group will get to see Helsinki sights and taste Finnish restaurant food at the Taste of Helsinki, where the food is cooked by leading chefs. Sauna is also a popular activity this year.

 

2013 Millennium Youth Camp will take place during 9–16 June 2013 in the Helsinki metropolitan area. Journalists are welcome to visit the camp. The detailed camp schedule will be released in early May.

Theme groups:

    •  biosciences and technology
    •  food sciences and technology
    •  energy
    •  ICT and digitalisation
    •  climate
    •  material sciences and technology
    •  applied mathematics
    •  renewable natural resources
    • water
    • urban planning

Further information:

Maija Aksela, Professor, Chair of the Steering Group of the Millennium Youth Camp
Finland’s Science Education Centre LUMA (University of Helsinki)
firstname.lastname(at)helsinki.fi, tel. +358 50 514 1450

Riikka Öörni, Project Coordinator, Technology Academy
riikka.oorni(at) technologyacademy.fi, tel. +358 40 5077 916

Media contact information:

Riina Vänttinen, Communications Officer, Technology Academy Foundation
firstname.lastname(at)technologyacademy.fi, tel. +358 400 420 922