There are several outreach projects in the Netherlands, all aiming to promote life sciences to a broader public. The outreach activities target two specific audiences: high school pupils & teachers, and the general public.
DNA labs on the road
The ‘Reizende DNAlabs‘ (DNAlabs on the road) are an excellent means for high school pupils to get acquainted with DNA, genes, genomics and the latest research techniques. The project has been up and running since 2006 and since then 160.000 high school pupils have participated in the practicals.
University students lead the labs. They take along all the equipment, from computer to PCR apparatus. The main language is Dutch, but the accompanying leaflets are also available in English.
There are six different subjects, each one provided by a different university.
- ‘Prenatal’ research on plants by Wageningen University and research centre
- Deciphering tumours by Utrecht University
- Bioinformatics: life in a computer by Radboud UMC
- Healthy or sick: it’s all-in the folds by Leiden University
- Racing on toilet paper: Delft University of Technology
- Forensic DNA-research: Puzzling out peaks by University of Amsterdam
High school teachers interested in hosting a lab are welcome to contact the Reizende DNA labs; the practicals come free of charge.
Bioinformatics @ school
The main goal of ‘Bioinformatica in de klas‘ (Bioinformatics @ school) is to increase awareness of and interest in bioinformatics at secondary schools, aiming at both pupils and teachers. Bioinformatics@school provides information, educational materials and workshops for teachers. Furthermore, Bioinformatics@school is involved in outreach activities like the Dutch Technology Week.
Jet-Net, Youth and Technology Network Netherlands, is a joint initiative of leading Dutch technology companies and secondary (pre-college) schools. Together they provide students with experiences that show that technology is challenging, meaningful and socially relevant. In collaboration with the schools, the companies develop an educational environment with practical content for the science curriculum. Through guest lessons, workshops and many other activities, young people see with their own eyes that they can find great, varied and interesting jobs in technology.
More than 80 different companies – like Shell, Philips, Unilever and DSM – and more than 170 high schools participate in Jet-Net. Jet-Net believes in ‘learning by doing’ so the activities all have interactive or executive component.
Jet-Net actively participates in European projects on the subject of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), such as inGenious and Scientix.
Leve DNA provides information and educational material about DNA for professionals and the general public. Besides, they try to encourage debate about social issues that involve DNA research. Leve DNA organises DNA-days, workshops, readings, etc.
De Praktijk was a company for science education and communication in the period 2000-2016. It developed educational concepts and materials and offered advice on subjects related to students, schools and education. De Praktijk tried to empower teachers by providing them with high quality, fun lessons. More than 3500 teachers and other interested parties were ‘registered members’ and had access to the open en online educational material. In addition to high school material, de Praktijk’ also contributed in science events and organised other scientific fun.
DSM contributes in several educational programmes. One of them is the above-mentioned Jet-Net project. And so is Project techniek Limburg’ (ptl), a programme that aims to increase the MBO enrolment of maintenance studies.
Every year almost 2000 VMBO pupils participate.
Dutch Technology week
Brainport region Eindhoven brings the most beautiful, exciting and innovative technology stories to light during the annual Dutch Technology Week (DTW). In 2015 the 4th DTW takes place from the 31st of May until the 6th of June. The DTW shows that technology is fun, challenging and provides many opportunities for study, work, business and investment.
International outreach activities: GOBLET
GOBLET (Global Organisation for Bioinformatics Learning, Education and Training) aims to provide a global, sustainable support and networking structure for bioinformatics educators/trainers and students. For example, GOBLET organised a hands-on session at the Science Teachers Association of Ontario (STOA). You can find the immediately applicable material on the GOBLET site. It includes common used web tools in bioinformatics as BLAST, OMIM and PDB.
International outreach activities: Science in School
Science in school is a quarterly published journal that is distributed across Europe. The content includes teaching materials and projects in science education, information about cutting-edge science, interviews with inspiring scientists and teachers, etc. The topics focus on interdisciplinary work and cover not only beta-sciences but also earth science, engineering and medicine.