The Promoting Science to the Public (PSP)-Flagship scheme supports large, multiannual projects that aim to have a lasting impact on Luxembourg’s society.
In 2016, the FNR introduced PSP-Flagship as a new branch of its Promoting Science to the Public funding instrument. The original scheme, now called PSP-Classic, continues to provide financial support for numerous and diverse actors to promote science to a lay target audience through interactive projects lasting up to one year and requiring a limited budget.
The goal of the PSP-Flagship programme is to help set up more long-term science outreach activities with a sustainable and lasting impact on the promotion of science to the public in Luxembourg. Thus far, the FNR has co-funded four PSP-Flagship projects, each lasting 3 years and with budgets between €350.000 and €500.000.
PSP Flagship Pilot project: the SciTeach teacher resource centre
A pilot project launched beginning of 2016 is the SciTeach centre located at the University of Luxembourg in Esch-Belval. It supports primary school teachers in Luxembourg in their natural sciences education, a topic currently often neglected in classrooms due to a lack of training and resources among teachers.
“The SciTeach centre offers IFEN-accredited training courses for teachers to expand their knowledge on how to teach natural sciences in the classroom”, explains Jean-Paul Bertemes, Head of Unit Science in Society at the FNR. He adds: ”It is also a resource centre with various teaching materials that teachers can borrow for use in their classrooms.”
The centre is run by science education specialists from the University of Luxembourg who can provide additional evidence-based guidance and support. The team is completed by two teachers commissioned by SCRIPT, who provide the link between the SciTeach project and the classroom.
“The FNR initiated this project because it is an investment in the future”, says Marc Schiltz, Secretary General of the FNR. “Over the last few years, Luxembourg has significantly expanded its efforts in the area of research and innovation. It is now essential to inspire future generations to develop a passion for this area. This is why the FNR wants to increase the status of natural sciences across primary schools in Luxembourg.”
The SciTeach project is a cooperation between the University of Luxembourg, SCRIPT, IFEN, the Ministry of Education and the FNR.
Budget: € 370.125
Coordinator: Christina Siry, University of Luxembourg (in collaboration with SCRIPT, IFEN, MENJE, FNR)
PSP FLAGSHIP: Support for long-term science outreach activities with a sustainable and lasting impact on the promotion of science to the public in Luxembourg.
ELIGIBLE APPLICANTS: public institutions performing research; Non-profit associations, foundations, and institutions (including schools) engaged in scientific activities
ELIGIBLE COSTS: personnel, equipment, consumables, travel and training, subcontractors, other costs directly related to the project (e.g. marketing)
PROJECT DURATION: 3 years
AVAILABLE ANNUAL BUDGET: 1,200,000 EUR
PSP-Flagship Calls: Scienteens lab, Bee Creative for kids, Luxembourg Science Center
In 2016, the FNR also introduced an annual call for PSP-Flagship proposals. All applications are evaluated by international experts and subsequently selected or not for competitive funding. Three projects received funding thus far:
Scienteens lab – a hands-on laboratory for high school pupils
Founded in 2013 by the Luxembourg Centre of System Biomedicine (LCSB), the Scienteens Lab at the University of Luxembourg is an extracurricular learning centre for high school pupils. Here, they can meet real scientists and use University equipment during interactive 1-day laboratory workshops in biology, physics and mathematics.
“We want to share our knowledge with the people in Luxembourg”, says Rudi Balling, Director of the LCSB, “and it’s particularly important to engage young people and stimulate their enthusiasm for research.”
The Scienteens lab submitted a proposal in the 2016 PSP-Flagship call to expand new courses, mainly in physics and mathematics but also in the life sciences. The physics course takes a closer look at a culinary curiosity: mayonnaise, which can take on properties of both a liquid and a solid. As part of this workshop, pupils use special equipment (e.g. rheometers) to measure for example the viscosity of mayonnaise.
The mathematics course takes apart step-by-step the RSG algorithm that is behind secure transactions over the internet. Pupils learn to apply Euclidian division to a real-world problem and how deceptively simple but effective factorisation of prime numbers safeguard our online shopping transactions.
“Thanks to the PSP-Flagship funding, the Scienteens lab was able to hire two additional project staff members who took the lead in delivering these workshops, which were developed in collaboration with local scientists from the Faculty of Science, Technology and Communication”, says Elisabeth John, Coordinator of the Scienteens lab.
“The budget also covers material needed for these courses. Besides expanding our offer for regular pupils, we are now also able to offer teacher training workshops and summer internships for highly motivated pupils.”
Budget: € 399.000
Coordinator: Elisabeth John, University of Luxembourg
BEE CREATIVE for Kids – stimulating digital and scientific skills in children
The goal of this PSP-Flagship project retained in the 2016 call is to use non-formal education and ‘makerspaces’ to promote a creative and scientific use of ICT-tools and thereby develop digital and scientific skills among children aged 6 to 12.
“One goal of the project is to test and promote the implementation of local makerspaces adapted for children in day care structures (‘maisons relais’), in collaboration with adjacent fundamental schools”, explains Eric Krier, coordinator of the project. ”Such makerspaces give children the possibility to work on scientific projects using digital tools such as a 3D printer, programming and soldering stations, and by using their creativity skills.”
For this project, the Service National de la Jeunesse (SNJ) and SCRIPT partnered with researchers at the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST). They developed a programmable micro-controller called ‘Kniwwelino’ especially designed for young children. After learning the basics of how to program the Kniwwelino step-by-step, the children can express their own creativity by implementing their ideas. Examples include a scissor-paper-stone game or a bicycle bell.
Valérie – a computer scientist herself and leader of the Kniwwelino sub-project – explains that computer science is perceived by many adults as boring, too complicated, or something just for nerds, but not so by young kids:
“At this age, children are not yet influenced by such stereotypes and show great curiosity and interest in new things. With Kniwwelino, we try to take advantage of this natural curiosity and allow children to experience that programming is fun, creative, and not at all that complicated.”
The Kniwwelino is also used in professional training of educators and teachers. In addition, the BEE CREATIVE for Kids project leaders organise national events to engage more children and their carers.
Budget: € 347.000
Coordinator: Eric Krier, SNJ (in collaboration with SCRIPT and LIST)
Find out more about Kniwwelino in our FNR Highlight ‘A microcontroller to teach programming to school children’
Luxembourg Science Center – an interactive science experience for all ages
Lifting yourself up with a pulley or feeling electrical tension on your body – all this is possible at the new Luxembourg Science Center, which opened its doors to the public in October 2017.
Located at the former industrial school (“Léierbud”) of ArcelorMittal in Differdange, its mission is to fascinate visitors for natural sciences and technology in a playful manner.
A broad range of hands-on exhibits, spectacular science shows and interactive workshops, designed to encourage children, teenagers but also adults to experience natural phenomena themselves instead of just observing them. Among the highlights is the largest Tesla generator in Europe, a giant transformer able to generate a tension of up to 1,7 Million Volts!
“To be prepared for the future, Luxembourg does not just need a lot of motivated scientists and engineers; research and the spirit of innovation must also return into people’s consciousness”, says Nicolas Didier, initiator of the Science Center. That is also the reason why the association around Didier has taken on this ambitious project, which has been classified by the Luxembourg government as a project of national importance.
By means of the PSP-Flagship project funding granted during the 2017 call, the Science Center aims to develop three new thematic rooms dedicated to science shows in chemistry, acoustics and optics (besides existing ones in electricity, mechanics, thermodynamics, material sciences and robotics). It will also use funds to hire additional Science Communicators, launch a public promotional campaign and run an impact study with an internationally recognised expert.
Coordinator: Nicolas Didier, Luxembourg Science Center