Sparkling Science is a research programme of the Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy (BMWFW) which started in 2007 and adopts an unconventional way in the promotion of young scientists that is unique in Europe.

The specific characteristic of the programme: in so far 202* projects (107 of them have already been finished) scientists worked and work side by side with young people in current scientific research projects. The research method applied here is also known as “Citizen Science”.

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In 202 research projects the young colleagues take an active part and work independently on parts of the research projects. As junior colleagues they introduce important suggestions into the research approach. They collaborate in the conception and conducting of investigations, conduct polls, collect data, interpret it together with the researchers and present the results at schools, universities and even at scientific conferences.

The support track is open to a broad thematic spectrum. Research is carried out on all sorts of different topics: from mechatronics and molecular biology to migration research, from acoustics and biometrics to literature research.

In the framework of a second support track of the Sparkling Science programme the BMWFW awarded from 2007 until 2011 grants for smaller projects – in this case “school research projects” submitted and conducted by schools. In these projects, too, schoolchildren worked closely together with researchers and supported them in their research work; these, however, were funded by other national and international research programmes outside the Sparkling Science programme. This support track also provided no thematic restrictions.

* Status quo: October 2014

The combination of first class research with the promotion of young scientists already at the interface between school and university has proved itself to be an exceptionally successful win-win model for breaking down barriers which results in lasting institutional partnerships.

Comprehensive information about the Austrian measures at the interface between science and schools can be found at www.youngscience.at.