|Showing young people the playful side of science and technology to create interest in science as a profession: that was the aim of the SCK•CEN (Belgian Nuclear Research Centre) researchers who were called up this weekend to support the Flemish days on space travel and the ‘Greenlight4Girls’ event organised by the European School of Mol.
To dust down the image of science somewhat and stimulate curiosity among more young people, SCK•CEN attended two awareness-raising events organised on Belgian soil.
First of all, they headed towards the Brabanthal in Leuven which, from 20 to 22 November last, held the Flemish Days on Space Travel organised by VRI, the Flemish organisation gathering together the industry and research centres from the space industry. Armed with microscopes, playful experiences, and high-tech devices, the researchers from the Research Centre explained to the numerous students in attendance the importance of their research for improving the lives of astronauts, who have a rough time during their space travel. Weightlessness, cosmic radiation, isolation, or even stress: the astronauts’ system is actually put under severe pressure during their mission and it is imperative that we are able to provide protection if we are to cherish hopes of reaching Mars one day.
Then, they moved on to the European School of Mol, which had organised for Saturday 21 November a whole day of science for secondary school students under the name ‘Greenlight for Girls’, an event which was also open to boys this year. From the preparation of a toothpaste to the creation of static electricity, also handling a telescope along the way, the students were able to discover a whole range of scientific applications in daily life. Organiser of twenty workshops out of the thirty which were present, SCK•CEN had outdone its rivals in imagination to arouse the interest of these budding scientists.
‘It’s absolutely essential to pass on our passion for science to the younger generations,’ says Sarah Baatout, researcher at SCK•CEN, enthusiastically. ‘There’s still so much to be done and discovered on earth and in space. It’s absolutely essential to keep on making progress in science to meet the big issues of the future. And our children are tomorrow’s researchers!’
© Jennifer Albaneze-Walker