For too many pupils, science at school remains abstract and most of them don’t understand the connection between the fundamental scientific knowledge they learn at school and the many technological innovations they see around them. In this perspective it is hardly surprising that young people do not choose for STEM (science technology, engineering and mathematics) studies and careers, especially in Europe. The lack of motivation for STEM-careers is also strongly related to gender imbalance in science and technology careers in Europe.
This is exactly what will be done in the “Quantum Spinoff” project: it will provide teachers with tools and a pedagogy to connect pupils with the ‘life of real-life’ researchers and thus raise the societal visibility of this kind of life, which according to the mentioned study has a positive impact on the motivation of girls for STEM-careers.
In the framework of this project, seven students of KA Oudenaarde came to visit B-PHOT, the Brussels Photonics Team. Prof. Heidi Ottevaere initiated the research field of photonics to those students as well as potential applications. The students visited the laser lab and the fiber sensing lab. At the end, they learned more about photonics with hands-on experiments about polarisation and diffraction.
For the continuation of the “Quantum Spinoff”, the students must devise a possible spinoff of an application they’ve seen during the visit at B-PHOT. This enables them to participate in the contest organized for the project. The pupils of the winning class in Belgium will get the opportunity to present their work -in English- during the European final.
We at B-PHOT strongly believe that students become more interested in science and technology careers if they see societal implications and impact, and if they can understand that science is something done by people.