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ISHR Student Wins 1st Prize at Regional ‘Jugend forscht’ Competition

Max Friedrich Dorn, a talented 10th-grade student at ISHR, has clinched the prestigious 1st Prize at the ‘Jugend forscht’ regional competition in the category of Math/Computer/Science.

Additionally, he was awarded three special prizes: the prize of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety; the Annual subscription of CT-Computer magazine; and the Prize of MTU Maintenance and Wirtschaftsförderung, Hannover.

Max’s exceptional project, developed under the expert guidance of Mr. Besnik, our MYP Design/K12 Edtech Coordinator, showcased his innovation and dedication. His groundbreaking achievement stems from his development of “ScholarOS,” an operating system tailored for the educational sector, meticulously crafted to meet the contemporary requirements of schools.

“Jugend forscht” is a German youth science competition aimed at promoting scientific curiosity and innovation among young people aged 15 to 21. Participants engage in research projects across various scientific disciplines, competing regionally and nationally for recognition and awards. The competition encourages hands-on experimentation, critical thinking, and collaboration, fostering a culture of scientific inquiry and discovery among the next generation.

As Max heads to the state competitions in March, we admire his ingenuity and dedication to advancing educational technology, and we’re eager to see his ongoing accomplishments.

To gain further insight into Max’s project and his journey with “Jugend forscht,” be sure to read our recent interview with him:

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Can you briefly tell us what your “Jugend forscht” project is about?

I developed my own operating system “ScholarOS” specifically for the educational sector that meets the requirements of contemporary schools. The central focus is on speed, user-friendliness, security and reduction in bloatware, which distract students from a focused work environment. A key goal was optimizing ScholarOS to even run quickly and smoothly on older or minimal hardware. By achieving this goal schools can use existing computers for longer and save for new investments in technology. Despite its slim design, ScholarOS offers all the essential functions for everyday school life. My aim with ScholarOS was to provide schools with a future-proof, secure and distraction free digital foundation for modern learning.

What made you choose this particular topic for your project?

In today’s digital era where technology and education go hand in hand, I have realized the importance and need of a user-friendly, efficient and distraction free operating system for students. As a student who works with computers every day, I often face challenges and limitations that traditional operating systems bring to the educational sector. From user interface complexity, acquisition costs to unnecessary pre-installed apps that produce unwanted pop-ups or other distractions (messaging etc.), also known as bloatware, it became clear that there is a gap in the availability of a truly student-centered operating system. This inspired me to develop my own operating system which I named ScholarOS. It is specifically tailored to the needs and requirements of students.

Were there any obstacles that you had to overcome during the implementation of your project?

Yes, many. Most were related to adding software compatibility to my operating system. For example, the internal keyboard, WiFi, Bluetooth, and screen of my computer initially weren’t working when running ScholarOS. These issues were all due to Apple’s poor or even lacking driver support since they don’t usually encourage running another operating system on their devices. This forced me to write several drivers myself.

How did your supervisor, Mr. Besnik, support you in developing your project?

Mr. Besnik helped me a lot. He is extremely supportive and is currently organizing a class expedition to the Jugend Forscht competition at Leibniz University. We are also discussing refurbishing old school laptops with slow hardware by loading ScholarOS onto them and sending them to schools in need.

What new insights did you gain during your research?

Thanks to the slim design of my operating system I was able to achieve a significant reduction in the system resources required. This achieved my first goal of developing an operating system that can be used on potentially outdated computers. Even though MacOS or Windows are no longer supported on outdated computers my operating system ScholarOS achieves a fast working environment. Since there are only minimal operating requirements, schools do not have to invest in expensive hardware to use ScholarOS. The graphic below shows a comparison of resources used by different operating systems.

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Is there a particular moment during your project that was especially meaningful to you?

The most meaningful moment during the development of my project was when I was finally able to boot into my operating system and use it without any issues.

How did you manage to organize your time between school and project work?

This was a very challenging task since this project required an immense amount of time over a period of several months. A lot of the work was done in the evening or on the weekend.

Were there moments when you were frustrated or doubted, and how did you deal with them?

Yes, there were a lot of those moments. When I got frustrated with my project on a specifically challenging issue, I would usually try and fix the problem that was causing my frustration immediately. This never worked because most of the problems were too difficult to solve without the correct mindset. That is why I would give up after trying to solve the problem for an hour. I would then get up, take a walk, and make myself something to drink. Just anything that would get my mind off the project. Usually, after coming back, I would already know how to fix the problem and implement the code to do so immediately.

What advice would you give to other young researchers who are interested in “Jugend forscht”?

I would recommend that they should look into it and visit the competition exhibition. The Jugend forscht competition offers a lot of opportunities to meet different kinds of people. During the competition, you can walk around, see other stands and get inspired or amazed by what others have put together. I think Jugend forscht is one of the best things for young researchers to get into since it also promotes sharing ideas with other interested people. It also opens the door to meeting professors in the field with whom you can exchange ideas about the work you created. The biggest advice I would give is to not get intimidated by the 15-page-long written work you have to submit and to keep notes of everything you do during your research. Participating in Jugend Forscht is a long process that requires time and dedication but I would encourage everyone to try it out.

What are your plans for the future in terms of your research interest or academic career?

I have always wanted to study computer science. While there are many AI and big data research opportunities in this field, these topics don’t interest me all that much. I greatly enjoyed my AI spring course in Palo Alto but what really got me fascinated was the time that I could spend at the Apple headquarters with the head designer of the M1 chip. This partially inspired me to go forward and try to program a computer operating system. My next learning step is another in-depth computer science course at Oxford, which I have planned for this summer. Additionally, I look forward to following up on my prime number project with which I won the Jugend forscht competition a few years back with the number theorist Noam Elkies at Harvard. This experience just underlines how rewarding it can be to participate at Jugend forscht. My ultimate personal goal would be to get my computer science PHD at Stanford University.