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Summer school at KTH gave students the research bug

Two young researchers in lab coats.
High school students Mathias Chang and Klara Wagenius in the lab at KTH. Photo: Jon Lindhe, KTH
Published Aug 17, 2022

High school students Klara Wagenius and Mathias Chang got to try out being KTH researchers for a couple of summer weeks. An experience that gave them a taste for more – they both want to become researchers after graduation.
”It has been very instructive. We have had to learn everything from methodology to presenting and working in the lab,” says Mathias Chang.

He and Klara Wagenius have participated in Rays summer research school, where high school students from all over the country live together in Sigtuna for four weeks and do a two-week internship as researchers at KTH, SU or KI.

”It's wonderful, because you live with twenty other people who are just as quirky and interested in science as you are. We live together and help each other and stress together and it's really interesting to hear about everyone else's projects too,” says Klara Wagenius.

In the natural science program

Back home, they are both in the natural science program in high school. Together with their mentor, KTH researcher Antonio Capezza, they have worked on a project about how plant-based materials can be used to produce, among other things, nappies and pads.

“Today's diapers and menstrual pads are made of synthetic materials that are not renewable and break down very poorly. So the goal was to create materials that were both degradable and renewable,” says Mathias Chang.

“And above all to reduce microplastics in the environment, because many of these absorbents end up in places where they shouldn't. It is also a problem with recycling in that they have to be burned. Our goal is that you should be able to throw these products basically anywhere without affecting the environment,” says Klara Wagenius.

"I want to do a lot of research"

Both she and Mathias Chang were already interested in research, and that it was one of the reasons why they applied to the summer school. But the opportunity to get away from home was also appealing, of course.

“Since I live in Skåne, it's a long way from home and you get to do something you're really interested in. After all, this is my first research project, and in high school, which is fun,” says Klara Wagenius.

Do you feel that this is something you want to do in the future?

”Yes! After these four weeks, I'm pretty sure that I want to do a lot of research,” says Mathias Chang.

”Yes exactly. It actually feels like the obvious choice,” says Klara Wagenius.

About Rays summer research school

Rays is aimed at students who are in their second year of high school and who have a strong interest in science, technology and mathematics. During four weeks, the participants discover more about science and during two of those weeks carry out a project at KTH, SU or KI. The project ends with the students writing a research report and then presenting their project at the Technical Museum in Stockholm.

The summer research school has been organized since 2011 and the aim is to give young students an understanding of what it is like to be active as a researcher.

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Text and photo: Jon Lindhe

Read more: Rewarding being a mentor to future researchers