It is not every day that you have a class from a Nobel Prize winner, but 1,200 pupils from Groningen, Friesland and Drenthe will, on Monday 10 July. Prof. Ben Feringa will teach a class on his groundbreaking research on molecular engines twice that day. In the morning 600 primary school pupils will arrive at Zernike Campus, and 600 high school pupils will attend in the afternoon.
The classes are being organized by the Pre University Academy of the University of Groningen.
Feringa will introduce the pupils to the exciting world of new molecules and future discoveries. What makes his research so special? Feringa developed a four-wheel drive car at the nano scale. The invention of the car is a feat in itself, but its future possibilities make it even more interesting. After all, imagine what you can do with a car about 80,000 times smaller than a human hair! Such a car might travel through your bloodstream to deliver medicine at the right place in your body or to repair body cells.
Besides being a researcher, Feringa mainly sees himself as a teacher. He likes to stress the importance of good education . On his trip to Stockholm to receive the Nobel Prize, he visited a school to tell children about molecules and all the things you can build with them. Feringa sees schoolchildren as the ultimate target group to generate enthusiasm for science. His own interest in chemistry was sparked by his chemistry teacher: ‘He was a good teacher, who not only told engaging stories about the subject but also linked it to concrete applications. He showed us the relationship between chemistry and medicines, colouring agents and even cars.’
Ben Feringa has been Professor of Chemistry at the University of Groningen since 1988. He received the 2016 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his discovery of the ‘molecular engine’, a light-driven rotating molecule, in 1999. Feringa shares the prize with the Frenchman Jean-Pierre Sauvage and the British Sir James Fraser Stoddart.
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