The RUG Discovery truck has been a byword in natural and technical science teaching in the Netherlands for nearly six years. The truck and its team are all set for a new period of at least three years in collaboration with GasTerra. Energy will be the leitmotif in the lessons in the mobile laboratory-cum-lecture room of the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences.
Energy provision is one of the greatest challenges of this century. ‘We will use the truck to show the decision-makers of the future the possibilities for energy generation and savings, and encourage youngsters to choose a science degree’, according to the University and GasTerra.
The current truck will be undergoing a make-over this summer. Solar panels and a retractable windmill will be installed on the roof of the nearly twenty-metre-long truck for demonstration purposes. Solar power will actually be used, too, for example to power the computers in the truck or recharge the mobile phones of the visiting school pupils.
Although the inside and the outside of the truck will be changing, much will remain the same for schools. ‘Energy was already a popular subject, and just as in the past we will continue to provide information about studying at the Faculty. There will also be room for special practicals that are not really possible in a school environment due to lack of the proper instruments’, says Theo Jurriens of the truck team.
Schoolchildren are a new target group for GasTerra. ‘Future energy scenarios are often a matter for the long term so it’s never too early to start to educate people about them’, says Hans Overdiep of GasTerra. ‘The University of Groningen’s experiences with the Discovery Truck dovetail neatly with this. They know better than anyone how to present these issues to schoolchildren. Where necessary, they will also develop new teaching material on this theme.’
GasTerra also regards the truck as an overture for the Energy Academy. Overdiep: ‘The North is the energy hotspot of the Netherlands. Strengthening energy-related teaching and research is good for our international competitive position.’
The Faculty is very pleased with the cooperation with GasTerra as the government cutbacks were threatening the very existence of the Discovery truck. Thanks to the financial contribution from GasTerra, the truck can continue to roll for at least three more years.
‘This is great news – the truck is a valuable link in the chain leading to study choice’, thinks Faculty Board member for Education Peter van Haastert. ‘First, the Discovery visits school pupils at school; then the pupils come to visit Science LinX, the Faculty’s interactive science centre. In this way we keep in intensive contact with school pupils. The Faculty rolls out the red carpet for them.’
The signing of the cooperation agreement between GasTerra and the University of Groningen will be held in the Discovery truck on Wednesday afternoon, 20 April, between 1.30 and 2.30 p.m. on the Vismarkt in Groningen. Gertjan Lankhorst and Koos Duppen will sign the agreement on behalf of GasTerra and the University of Groningen respectively. You are cordially invited to attend.
University of Groningen: Theo Jurriens, t.a.jurriens rug.nl, tel 06 53 81 69 59 GasTerra: Henk Ensing, henk.ensing gasterra.nl, tel. 06 46 28 29 60
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