A future in science? For many pupils at Görlitz-based Joliot-Curie-Gymnasium, studying a Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) subject is an attractive prospect. 24 of them have now visited the Center for Advanced Systems Understanding as part of a project week. The CASUS team spent a day introducing them to the world of programming. But there was also time to talk about what the job of a scientist looks like.

After a short round of introductions and greetings, everyone got straight to work on the computers: under the guidance of the Görlitz Jugend hackt lab (currently organized by Lenz Fiedler and Samuel Pantze from CASUS), the young people worked with a game engine, i.e. a software environment specially developed for the development of computer games. After just a few hours, all the teams had created functioning mini-games. After the lunch break, the program included a tour of the CASUS building and a presentation of research done at CASUS. Afterwards, the design and soundtrack of the games were fine-tuned.

In the afternoon, the teams presented their work and all received applause – sometimes for advanced game dynamics, sometimes for a successful “game over” implementation and once for a shiny purple giant rat. The question of whether they enjoyed the creative excursion into the world of IT was answered with a resounding “Yes!” and some of the participants will certainly be visiting the Jugend hackt lab in Görlitz in the near future (motto of the lab: “Improve the world with code”).

The day was also an experience for the international CASUS team: unusual questions and a genuine interest in scientific careers, which often include stops in many countries, are rarely encountered in everyday research. Incidentally, there were no communication problems, as the young people’s English from school was very good and the CASUS team already could demonstrate a basic knowledge of German.

The project day was realized through the Scultetus Center. The center, which is based at CASUS, offers a creative space for collaborative work to promote the exchange of scientific knowledge. In addition to organizing seminars and workshops on research into complex systems, the Scultetus Center is also responsible for hosting visiting scientist programs and educational events. Director Dr. Weronika Schlechte-Wełnicz emphasizes that she is willing to organize further school projects and that she is happy to receive inquiries.

The school has been organizing the Joliot-Curie Week for more than 15 years. This project week focuses on a topic outside of the regular curriculum. In 2024, the activities revolved around scientific topics: In the two days before the CASUS excursion, the program for the pupils included a visit to the observatory in Görlitz and to the computer science department at the Zittau-Görlitz University of Applied Sciences.

Jugend hackt Lab Görlitz
every other Wednesday in the Rabryka Görlitz
Further information

About the Center for Advanced Systems Understanding

CASUS was founded 2019 in Görlitz/Germany and pursues data-intensive interdisciplinary systems research in such diverse disciplines as earth systems research, systems biology or materials research. The goal of CASUS is to create digital images of complex systems of unprecedented fidelity to reality with innovative methods from mathematics, theoretical systems research, simulations as well as data and computer science to give answers to urgent societal questions. The founding partners of CASUS are the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR), the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research in Leipzig (UFZ), the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden (MPI-CBG), the Technical University of Dresden (TUD) and the University of Wrocław (UWr). CASUS, managed as an institute of the HZDR, is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the Saxon State Ministry for Science, Culture and Tourism (SMWK).