Getting youngsters to realise how much fun science and technology are, while also showing them just how vulnerable planet earth is: that’s André Kuipers’s mission. The Dutch astronaut is a self-declared ambassador of our planet. He visited HAS University of Applied Sciences on 13 February, to deliver a college tour lecture as part of the ceremony marking the Green Education Impact Award.
Following his speech, the winners were announced in the 4 categories: preparatory secondary vocational education (vmbo), upper secondary vocational education (mbo), higher professional education (hbo) and universities (wo). In the final category, the winner was the TU/E ‘FootRoots’ project, in which HAS University of Applied Sciences was also involved. The HAS project ‘Wie of wat vangt de beverrat?’ (‘Who or what will catch the coypu?’) was nominated in the third category, but was, unfortunately, not the winning entry.
Eating in space
During the college tour session, André Kuipers responded to various questions and elaborated extensively on the importance of the agrifood and environment sectors in space aviation. The session was hosted with great enthusiasm by Wende Schaminée, a student of Animal Husbandry & Animal Care at HAS University of Applied Sciences. Among other things, André talked about fundamental research into growing in space. Do plants have sensors for measuring what is up and what is down? Can you grow plants in space, and so provide astronauts with fresh food? And what are the possibilities of Martian soil? In addition, he went into considerable detail about his experiences with eating in space. “You can only eat sticky, canned food, because grains, for instance would scatter all over the place. A great deal of research is being carried out into food nutrients, shelf-life, taste and texture.”
The session was hosted with great enthusiasm by Wende Schaminée, a student of Animal Husbandry & Animal Care at HAS University of Applied Sciences.
Kuipers also talked about our environment: “From space, you can clearly see environmental pollution. For example, bush fires and also smog over cities.” Work is currently being carried out on an instrument that can measure all the elements of air pollution across the globe. If this is successful, we will be able to accurately analyse what type of pollution we’re dealing with, and where it is coming from. Based on this, we can then have well-founded discussions and take adequate steps.” Finally, Kuipers addressed the pupils and students directly: “Have you got a passion? Go for it! And draw up a plan. Because doing nothing won’t get you there.”
The ‘FootRoots’ project aims at making the food system as transparent as possible. A team of students is focussing on developing a digital infrastructure that will allow food products to be tracked, from shed, field or orchard to supermarket shelf. In addition, every transportation and processing stage is being defined, with the corresponding prices at every stage in the chain. The intention is to have the first prototype ready by summer 2020.
Who or what will catch the coypu?
The ‘Who or what will catch the coypu?’ project is aimed at developing a smart cage for catching coypus. These smart cages are equipped with a movement sensor, a battery, a modem and a camera. This enables researchers to connect the cage to a database with pictures of various animals. If the camera detects a coypu, the trap shuts. If not, it opens again. The aim is to minimise the numbers of other animals caught in the trap.
About the Green Education Impact Award
After the tremendous success of the previous year, in 2019, pupils and students from green education entered nearly 50 projects eligible for the Green Education Impact Award. These were assessed by a professional jury. This year’s award once again had 4 categories, covering all levels of green education. There were 2 or 3 nominees per category. The winners took home a prize of € 2.500. In 2019, HAS student Chantal van der Noordt won the prize in the hbo category, with her ‘Gruun groenteplakken’ concept (Gruun vegetable slices).