Girls' Day 2017

May 04, 2017

How does a typical day at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) look like? What are the scientists, laboratory technicians or engineers currently working on and how did they get into the world of science? 20 high school students between the age of twelve and 15 participated in the Girls' Day at the MPI-P on April 27, 2017 and were eager to get answers to these and many more questions.

The Girls’ Day program at the MPI-P consisted of four different workshops, which all gave the girls the chance to take a look behind the scenes of the numerous research areas of the institute. Equipped with gowns and protective goggles, the students visited the laboratory for polymer analysis, learned how superabsorbent polymers work and are now able to explain, what superhydrophobicity stands for.

Participants of the Girls‘ Day 2017 at the MPI-P are building a dye-sensitized solar cell out of blackberry juice Zoom Image
Participants of the Girls‘ Day 2017 at the MPI-P are building a dye-sensitized solar cell out of blackberry juice

In a fourth workshop, the students learned how to build a dye-sensitized solar cell with blackberries using the dark color of the fruit’s juice to convert light into electricity. At first, the Girls’ Day participants crushed a blackberry and added a glass plate with a titanium oxide coating to take up the dye of the juice. The girls then used a pencil to apply a graphite layer on another glass plate that has a conductive and a transparent coating. Both plates clipped together then form a mini solar cell, after the excess berries were washed off with ethanol. In a final step the girls added an electrolyte solution between the two glass plates. To make sure the do-it-yourself solar cell was actual working, the girls tested it with the help of an ammeter.

This solar cell experiment served as an example for the interdisciplinary approach at the MPI-P and how this is implemented in the organizational structure of the institute. Only a team that combines people with different backgrounds in chemistry, physics, biology and engineering is able to answer the challenging questions asked in basic research. With this insight and a great deal of inspiration for possible future study choices, the Girls’ Day 2017 at the MPI-P drew to a close.

Since 2001 the Girls' Day has taken place in Germany every April. In 2017 over 25 Max Planck Institutes participated in the initiative to promote girls’ interests in science and technology. The Girls’ Day is supported among others by the Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

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