The SCK•CEN Microbiology group has been awarded the 2016 Annual Prize for Science Communication by the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts (Koninklijke Vlaamse Academie van België voor Wetenschappen en Kunsten (KVAB) with the project ‘Food from Spirulina’.
The aim of this project was to have European high school students conduct experiments with spirulina, a bacterium, which SCK•CEN itself is studying in the quest for solutions for lengthy, manned space missions. In collaboration with ESA, the European Space Agency, 1,000 experiment kits were being distributed to high schools throughout Europe, including some one hundred Belgian schools. In March 2015, in the class, the youngsters started experimenting with spirulina, a bacterium that is capable of producing oxygen through photosynthesis. In April, 100 Belgian students aged between 12 and 14 years from ten different schools were given the opportunity to share their experiences during a unique day at SCK•CEN. The absolute highlight? A live video link with an astronaut in the ISS international space station.
“With the Food from Spirulina project we were endeavouring to arouse young people's interest in science and space travel”, says Nathalie Leys, head of the Microbiology group. “Our ambition at SCK•CEN is to give students a taste at an early age of what exactly research and development involves. After all, in a few years, their enthusiasm and ingenuity will prove a boon in looking for solutions for tomorrow’s technological and social challenges. We are therefore especially pleased with this annual prize; a fine recognition of our efforts in science communication.”
In total, 16 participants were awarded an annual prize. Read more.