Pupils of European Schools experiment with science at SCK•CEN


On Monday 1 April, SCK•CEN opened the doors of its Lakehouse to no fewer than 60 pupils from 18 European Schools. The programme included compelling workshops such as 'Brilliant brains', 'Why can't you add pineapple to Gelatin' and 'DNA in a shot glass'. "These workshops aim to encourage creativity and inspiration; creativity and inspiration that students can use in their project for the European School Science Symposium competition", explains Sarah Baatout, researcher at SCK•CEN and also one of the members of the judging panel.

The clock strikes 14:00. The Lakehouse, the conference centre of SCK•CEN, is bursting with energy. Up to 60 students from 18 European Schools are busy working on all kinds of experiments. They set to work examining the human brain and try to decipher their genetic code. "They do this using a saliva sample and a few household items", explains PhD student Niels Belmans (SCK•CEN/Hasselt University). What is more, the scientists of SCK•CEN let the students develop a new medicine using a computer. "They were able to test this medicine immediately on the human body, though only using the software", winks PhD student Raghda Ramadan (SCK•CEN/Ghent University).

SCK•CEN organised seven workshops in total. The Joint Research Centre (EC-JRC), which is helping to support the initiative, also offered several workshops in Geel, the aim of which is to inspire students. "They can use the inspiration they get during the workshops to further shape their own science project for the European School Science Symposium", explains Sarah Baatout. Was it a success? "In these workshops we tested several technologies opening up new opportunities and possibilities within the scientific field. I was especially astonished by the power of the computer. You can design a drug molecule with a computer. So enlightening!", concludes Henri Dhondt, one of the students. 

European School Initiative

The European School Science Symposium (ESSS) is a science competition for students attending a European School. In this competition, students are challenged to explore a scientific domain of their choice and to develop a project. The project and/or the invention that they propose is not on the curriculum of the European School and must score well in terms of originality, innovative approach and impact. The judging panel includes both teachers and experts from the field, five of whom are
scientists at SCK•CEN this year: Vincent Massaut, Gert van den Eynde, Jordi Vives, Andrew Dobney and Sarah Baatout. The winning project will be announced on 3 April. The project will also be supported by the Joint Research Centre (EC-JRC).

More information

Curious about the European Science Symposium (ESSS)? Read more.