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The Novo Nordisk Foundation Awards a Grant to the Danish Natural Science Marathon

Children participating in a leg of this year's Danish Natural Science Marathon. Photo: House of Natural Sciences.

The Novo Nordisk Foundation has awarded DKK 6.55 million (€0.88 million) over 3 years to the House of Natural Sciences to help to develop the nationwide Danish Natural Science Marathon.

The Natural Science Marathon is a creative 10-week teaching module targeting students and teachers in grades 5 and 6 within the subject of natural sciences and technology in which the students strive to find solutions to 10 open tasks. Every year the projects cover a wide range of topics within the natural sciences: biology, physics, chemistry, geography and technology. Students get the chance to be innovative, to use their scientific knowledge and to collaborate.

School classes meet in the final competition in individual municipalities in Denmark to find the best solutions, to demonstrate their inventions and to be inspired by other solutions for the same task.

The purpose of the Natural Science Marathon is to develop students’ inventive and innovative competencies and to increase their interest and enthusiasm for science and technology. The event also inspires science and technology teachers to work with innovative projects in their teaching.

“Unfortunately, much natural science teaching in Denmark still involves blackboard teaching and cookbook experiments. The Natural Science Marathon wants to change this by being a unique creative module targeting students and teachers in grades 5 and 6. This is exactly the age when all students are still interested in natural science and technology, so such efforts can ensure that they continue to be motivated,” says Nanna Seidelin, Director, House of Natural Sciences.

The grant from the Foundation will be used to develop the concept, including making the competition better known to attract even more participants in the coming years. The funding will also be used to develop new innovative projects.

Birgitte Nauntofte, CEO, Novo Nordisk Foundation, says:

“Innovation in the natural sciences and technology is important for Denmark’s future prosperity. By awarding a grant to the Danish Natural Science Marathon, the Novo Nordisk Foundation wants to play a part in encouraging children’s inventiveness, inspiration and knowledge related to the natural sciences and technology and to stimulate their interest in choosing a career within these fields in the long term.”

The 2016 Natural Science Marathon began in Viborg on 24 February and finishes at the end of May in Esbjerg. This year, about 20,000 students and 900 teachers participated, up from 12,000 students two years ago.


The Natural Science Marathon helps enthusiastic students to develop their own ideas for a product, work together in teams on innovation and develop their inventiveness. They also broaden their scientific knowledge through practical and investigative work using both manual and cognitive skills.

A particular strength of the Natural Science Marathon is its appeal to several types of students, emphasizing the importance of involving all types of students in the innovation process of developing a good product.

The Natural Science Marathon complements the objectives of the 2014 reform of public schools in Denmark on improving in-depth learning, academic standards and innovation.

The Natural Science Marathon has received financial support for many years from the Ministry for Children, Education and Gender Equality and its predecessor, the Lundbeck Foundation, Grundfos, the Otto Mønsted Foundation and the Knud Højgaards Foundation.


The House of Natural Sciences is a non-profit development and visitor centre that builds bridges between education and business and supports teachers in teaching the natural sciences and technology innovatively.