ISSP UL scientists inspire and prepare tasks for school erudition competition

A leading researcher from the ISSP UL’s Laboratory of Ferroelectric Materials, Dr.phys. Marija Dunce and a leading researcher from the Laboratory of Optical Materials, Dr.phys. Virgīnija Vītola are two ISSP UL scientists to be part of the annual “FIZMIX experiment” erudition competition for school youth from grades 8 and 9.

Virgīnija Vītola is one of the experts who will prepare questions and tasks for the participants and, together with the jury, will evaluate the performance in the finals. Virgīnija says that her favourite experiment is something from the optics field like diffraction. The role of physics in her everyday life is huge: she is a physics teacher at school and university, and she is also a researcher at the ISSP UL. Besides, Virgīnijas’s hobby is electronics. She explains that she started to love physics in grade 12 while developing her student’s scientific research paper at the ISSP UL.

Marija Dunce is one of the competition’s inspirers and an expert in nature-friendly physics and research. Her research interests include human- and environmentally-friendly lead-free ferroelectric/piezoelectric materials (materials whose properties can be changed by an electric field). Although they have many and varied applications (in sensors, actuators, ultrasonography devices, transformers), many of them are currently still at the research level - for example, they can be used in autonomous electrical energy sources, in which energy is produced in small quantities from mechanical vibrations.

The inspirers of the competition are people whose everyday life is unimaginable without knowledge of physics and its application. They will inspire young people to learn about the usefulness and practical application of physics knowledge in real life and future career choices. The inspirers will participate in developing the competition’s tasks and support the finalist teams on their way to victory.

The organizers of the competition have prepared short videos about the inspirers where they introduce themselves and their research areas and ask one of the competition’s questions to the students’ teams. Marija Dunce’s is video available here.

The erudition competition “FIZMIX Experiment” aims to encourage young people’s interest in exact sciences and to show in an engaging way how to use theoretical knowledge in practice. The competition also seeks to interest children in choosing engineering as their future profession.

To participate in the competitions, students form teams of 5 students and apply online. The selection round consists of 24 online tasks of various difficulty levels prepared by competition experts and inspirers. The first warming-up tasks were available online from January 30. The competition’s semifinals and finals will take place on April 15 during Physics Festival.