DIFFER reaches 3750 students and teachers at Fusion Days 2017

November 30th 2017

From 16-21 November 2017, DIFFER participated in the sixth edition of the Fusion Days at Antwerp University for some 3750 high school students and teachers. DIFFER's Fusion Road Show with its live experiments was again well received as the central event for the Fusion Days. In addition, the students were challenged to participate in the institute's new Energy Quiz on the future of energy.

The Fusion Days at Antwerp University are the closing event of the university's elective lessons module on fusion energy for the upper two years of high school. The event has been organised every other year by Antwerp University's education center Centrum Nascholing Onderwijs since the Fusion Days' first edition in 2007. Visiting schools mostly come from the Dutch speaking Flanders region of Belgium, with some schools from the southern Netherlands joining the event every edition.

   

Left: Dean of Antwerp University's Science Faculty Prof.Dr. Nick Schryvers introduces the Fusion Road Show by DIFFER's Arian Visser (center) and Gieljan de Vries (right).
Photo copyright Universiteit Antwerpen – Ben Van den Broecke

Discovering science for future energy

Visitors to the Fusion Days are welcomed to an appealing exhibit about energy science, with DIFFER's Fusion Road Show as the main ingredient to their programme. With a mix of live experiments and theatrical techniques, DIFFER's communication team Arian Visser and Gieljan de Vries introduce their audience to the science of fusion energy and its potential for the energy transition in the second part of the century. In addition to the Energy Quiz and the Fusion Road Show, the Fusion Days offered a science exhibition and elective sessions on for instance the energy mix.

   

Left: exhibits at the Fusion Days science fair.
Center: Operation Tokamak game for iOS/Android (developed by EUROfusion).
Right: Dr. Jef Ongena (Research Director at the Plasma Physics Lab, Royal Military Academy) presents a parallel session on the future energy mix.
Photo copyright Universiteit Antwerpen – Ben Van den Broecke

Energy quiz

One follow-up session was organised by DIFFER's research development officer Erik Langereis, who challenged students during his newly developed Energy Quiz. In 45 minutes, the quiz takes participants on a tour of the energy transition and climate change. "The quiz was originally designed for a science café, so we made sure the format is fun as well as informative", says Langereis, who uses animations, cartoons and plenty of links for follow-up research. "We ask questions on energy that everyone should know the answer to - or that will surprise almost everyone."

   

Left to right: Dr. Erik Langereis (DIFFER) presenting the Energy Quiz during the 2017 edition of the Fusion Days.
Photo copyright Universiteit Antwerpen – Ben Van den Broecke

Increasing reach

Starting from 4 sessions for about 2400 visitors in 2007, the Fusion Days have now grown to 7 sessions for some 3550 students and 200 teachers. Teachers consistently give the show high marks for scientific contents and didactic value, as well as for general appeal - 96% of respondents in 2017 rated the show as good to very good, the highest categories on the evaluation scale.

   

Audience and Fusion Road Show presenter during one of the 7 sessions at the Fusion days 2017
Photo copyright Universiteit Antwerpen – Ben Van den Broecke

Exciting and worthwhile

"The Fusion Days are not about just feeding students a huge amount of information - although the demos and movies do allow us to sneak in a lot of details on fusion science!", says DIFFER's head of communication Gieljan de Vries. "Our main goal is to show students -and teachers- how exciting and worthwhile it is to do research into future energy. To my mind, nothing shows the success of the formula better than hearing from current university physics or engineering students that the Fusion Days helped them decide to go into energy research."