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Press announcement

European Science Week 2001: promoting awareness and dialogue
 5 - 11 November 2001 -


Brussels, 29 October 2001

Key words: scientific and technological literacy, public awareness, young people

The 2001 edition of the European Science and Technology Week will take place from 5 to 11 November in more than 20 countries. Thought-provoking events organised during this week in many cities across Europe aim at raising public awareness of science and technology and showing the importance of European co-operation and tradition.

Said Philippe Busquin, Commissioner for Research: "The Union has reinforced and will still reinforce its support to the development of citizens' scientific and technological literacy. We believe this is an important issue. Today teaching has become too theoretical, perhaps as a result of a shortage of funds. Initiatives such as the European Science Week allow us to reintroduce the intuitive dimension into teaching science. They also reinforce dialogue and enable researchers to keep an eye on citizens' expectations.

The European Science and Technology Week is part of a broader EU initiative to raise public awareness of research in general and in particular to encourage young people to take an interest in science – not only as potential future scientists, technologists and technicians, but also as better-informed citizens.

Following a call proposals published in 2000 7 projects (see annex) have been selected (EU-funding EUR 1.73 million) and will organise events across Europe during the week beginning 5 November (see table on next page). Most of these projects have also designed entertaining web sites which are likely to attract lots of young web-surfers and provide useful information about the events and follow-on activities.

This year several additional activities have joined the European Week. The Commission also created a permanent web site on the Science Week (including a media pack) and more generally on activities to raise public awareness of science and technology.

The Science Week takes place at a time when policy makers across Europe are concerned with declining number of students choosing to enrol in science subjects.

Journalists wishing to attend one of these events should contact the organisers or the Commission contacts indicated below.



Localisation of the events





Life in the Universe



Europe Biotech






Push 2001



Small is beautiful



Energetic Friends



For Press information please contact:

Michel Claessens, Information and Communication Unit, Research DG,
Tel : +32-2-295.99.71; Fax: +32-2-295.82.20

Melanie Kitchener, Science and society Directorate, Research DG
Tel : +32-2-295.06.86; Fax: +32-2-296.32.70,

For additional information on the Week:

Special issue of RTD info on "Young people and science":

Stephen Parker, Improving human potential programme, Research DG
Tel : +, Fax : +,
E-mail :


European Science and Technology Week 2001
5-11 November

Description of the projects selected.


Telegenic science

Why isn't science a source of inspiration for the media? After all, it certainly has its adventures, sometimes heroic figures, and discoveries full of suspense. Why would the layman fail to be fascinated by research if it is presented in the right way for a mass audience? Television alone can reach such an audience and is also the most suited for a 'dramatisation' of science. EuroPAWS (European Public Awareness of Science initiative) is encouraging efforts to this effect with initiatives such as grants for TV drama scriptwriting, a new festival of TV dramas and the first Midas prizes. The latter will be awarded to the best television dramas: one prize for dramas based on factual science stories, and the other for fictional stories in which science or technology play a major role.

Co-ordinated by the CCLRC (Council for the Central Laboratories of the Research Councils/UK), EuroPAWS is an association of five partners, two of them European groups of actors/producers and scientists. Its website offers some interesting avenues to be explored by anyone seeking to launch drama projects drawing on science and technology.

Awards ceremony: Institute of Electrical Engineers, London (UK), 5 November
Press conference and presentation: Musées Royaux d’Art et d’Histoire, Brussels (BE), 7 November




Life in the Universe

Who are we, and where do we come from?

In the beginning, probably between 13 and 17 billion years ago, came the Big Bang. But what does this theory mean? What is our present understanding of the Universe? What forms of life could possibly exist outside the solar system? What in fact constitutes life? What do scientists know about the origins of our world and the worlds around us? Secondary school students (14 to 19 years) in 23 European countries are invited to present their 'conception of the Universe', their ideas on its development, and the questions it raises in the form of projects. These can take virtually any format, from the creation of a website to theatre. 

Two winners per country will then be selected to come to CERN (European Laboratory for Particle Physics) in Geneva where they will present their projects and have the opportunity to discuss them with seasoned international experts. 

This three-day event will culminate with the awarding of the Super Contest Prizes in the form of an invitation to the launch of the Ariane rocket at the European Space Agency site in Kourpou (French Guyana) and a visit to the European Southern Observatory (ESO) at Cerro Paranal (Chile), site of the world's largest telescope (see RTD info no. 31). This final will be broadcast on the Internet. 

As partners of CERN, the ESA and the ESO, the European Association for Astronomy Education (EAAE), the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), and the European Synchroton Radiation Facility (ESRF) will also be contributing to these events. 

A three-day meeting-debate at CERN, Geneva (CH), 8-11 November
Live web cast on 10 November at 7.00 pm




Biotech Europe

Biotechnologies and daily life

Demonised by some, and presented as the inevitable solution for the future by others, GMOs are at the forefront of the debate between science and society which is currently interesting a growing number of Europeans. It is also a subject on which expert opinion is divided. A 45'-documentary on plant biotechnology ("Genes on the menu") and a conference debate on the implications of GMOs in the areas of health, food, the environment, the principle of precaution and freedom of research, will be shown at four European science museums: in Munich, Bristol, Brussels and Madrid. The aim is to provide the general public with the most comprehensive and objective information possible in the interests of a well-informed debate. This film will report on the latest European research in the field. It will be produced in five language versions (Spanish, Italian, German, French, English) and will be available on video, CD, DVD and on the Net. A five-minute presentation version will be available in science museums and on the Net. 

A video conference organised by the Nature Publishing Group and the Deutsches Museum in Munich will accompany the documentary's first screening. This will be attended by science journalists and publishers, politicians, education experts, etc. There will also be an award for investigative journalism in the field of biotechnologies. 

Live debate involving Commissioner Busquin and panels at 4 locations on 8 November
Film premiere and video conference: Deutsches Museum, Munich (DE)
Brussels, Bristol, Madrid, 5 -11 November





The benefits of renewable energy sources

The sun, the wind, plant waste… Each one is an energy source which respects the environment and is the subject of increasingly significant research. Infoplanet presents the latest developments in the field of renewable energy sources with a particular focus on Europe's Mediterranean region. Four educational exhibitions, complete with explanatory posters and videos, will be held simultaneously in four cities: Rome, Thessaloniki, Barcelona and Porto. 

At each venue, the general public - and secondary school teachers and pupils in particular - will be able to meet and debate with researchers and other experts on renewable energy sources. 

There will be an extensive campaign to raise public awareness prior to the event while the Infoplanet website will report on the ensuing debates and results achieved. One of Infoplanet's principal aims is to close the gap which too often separates scientists from the general public, due to a lack of information and communication. 

Museo dei Bambini, Rome (IT)
CEDEFOP, Thessaloniki (GR)
ISEP, Porto (PT)
5-17 November




PUSH 2001

da Vinci, Darwin, Linnaeus and the life sciences

Under the banner of these three major figures, the association Public Understanding of Science and Health (PUSH 2001) - a partnership of the Darwin Centre (Pembrokeshire, UK), Florence University (IT), and Uppsala University (SE) - will be bringing together some 150 teachers and pupils from the three home countries of these illustrious Europeans, namely Italy, England and Sweden. 

With the help of experts, PUSH 2001 aims to take a close look at educational modules which permit an active approach to scientific concepts by giving students the opportunity to carry out experiments. Over three days, participants will talk with researchers and attend the many workshops rich in 'dramatisations' of science. Evocations of the work of da Vinci, Darwin and Linnaeus will also provide an opportunity to place discoveries and their development in a historical context. 

The educational modules will be on the life sciences. Genetic engineering will be illustrated, for example, by showing the expression of a fluorescent protein in bacteria, enzyme activity through bioluminescence, immunology applications, and plant biotechnology. It will be possible to evaluate the modules presented so that they can be used by other teachers and adapted to different kinds of teaching. 

Meeting of science teachers and students – workshops, debates, dramatisations
Villa del Poggio Imperiale, Florence (IT), 5-7 November
Events in Uppsala, Pembrokeshire

Mario Pazzagli
, Universita degli studi – Florence (IT),
Anthony Keith Campbell, Darwin Centre for Biology and Medicine (UK),
Peter Bergsten, Uppsala Universitet (SE),



Small is beautiful

How microsystems perform

Airbags installed in cars are controlled by microsystems (MST) no bigger than your fingernail. Electronic noses are able to detect whether or not food is fresh. In the fields of health, the environment, transport and safety, minute devices are playing an ever- bigger role. 

The European Week on Microsystems Technologies - Chances, Changes, Challenges exhibition will be presenting the products, applications and developments of the future of this invisible world of micro-intelligence. Mobility, daily life, work and communication are the exhibition's four main themes. 

Information days with seminars, conferences and debates will be devoted to three target publics: young people, students and teachers; elderly and disabled people (whose daily lives are greatly facilitated by MST innovations, in the field of electronic surveillance and home care, for example); and SMEs, with a special day set aside to meet European microsystem producers. At a closing session, sociologists, industrialists, user representatives and the general public will meet to debate the ethical, social and environmental implications of growing MST applications. 

Conference in Manchester, Museum of Science and Industry (UK), 6, 7, 8, 10 November
Exhibition on microsystems applied to mobility, living, work and communication, 5-11 November




Energetic Friends

Young scientists at work

The competition was open to teams of young scientists (three to five youngsters aged between 12 and 18), supported by an adult, from Estonia, Latvia or Finland, and ideally forming international groups. Their research projects had to lie within the broad field of energy but were allowed a greater freedom of approach. The aim was to encourage innovative initiatives by teams from the Baltic countries. Scientists were allowed to help them to develop their projects. A jury comprising experts from science centres in the three countries, researchers and engineers selected the ten best projects. These finalists will now be travelling to the Tallin Technology and Science Centre to present their work with the aid of multimedia resources. A range of other activities is being organised on this occasion, including excursions, science dramatisations of science and a quiz. The winning projects will be presented on the Energetic Friends internet site. 

Final of the 'Energetic Friends' research projects: Technology and Science Centre Energy, Tallinn, Estonia, 5-8 November 




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