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Aline Hatem at Science is Wonderful!

Aline Hatem participated the current edition of Science is Wonderful! that took place 16 & 17 March 2023. Only 43 projects were selected for the exhibition among more than 140 proposals. More than 4000 pupils have visited the science fair. 

She collaborated with a school in Greece and we came out with a learning ressource that won the competition of science is wonderful! Over 500 researchers took part of the competition and over 100 proposals were submitted to the jury. 

How I applied

On the 18th of November 2022, we received an email from Marina, our ITN coordinator telling us about Science is Wonderful! and encouraging us to participate.

Science is Wonderful! sounded like a great idea as it is an opportunity for us, MSCA-founded researchers, to reach out to primary and secondary school pupils, share with them our passion for science, help them to discover this big world, and why not, encourage them to become the future generation of scientists. 

Given my previous experience both in outreach to large audiences and in children's animations, I was so excited to relive those moments, but in the field that I have finally chosen for my life: SCIENCE!

That's why I decided to participate in both possible ways:

Science is wonderful! fair: The fair was organized by the European Commission in Brussels on the 16-17th of March 2023.  For that, we had to submit our proposal  no later than the 1st of December 2022. I filled that proposal, and created an idea of a booth called "What's in our blood?". The idea of my booth was to introduce the pupils to the world of blood research; first to teach them about the blood components (how to fabricate their blood using lemonade, red jellies, and white jellies). Second, I showed the pupils what does it mean blood circulation and the importance of having healthy circulation with healthy blood vessels (the game was that they have to sip in from the red juice with straws that are sometimes clogged with a rubber band; clogged straws represent clogged vessels by cholesterol, telling the kids that they have to eat healthy and exercise in order to keep their blood vessels open). Finally, the activity was about the red blood cells shapes; so, using modelling clays they had to reproduce healthy (discocytes, bullet, slipper, parachute-like shapes), and diseased shapes of red blood cells (echinocytes, sickle red blood cells).

The EU has received more than 140 proposals, and only 43 projects were selected for the exhibition, mine included, luckily! And that's how I made it to the Science fair in Brussels and I was selected as one of Science Is Wonderful! 2023's ambassadors.

Booth's slogan: Healthy blood, healthy you!

Booth's teaser: Have you ever considered how is your body connected? How did it come about that the oxygen you breathe in through your nose and the nutrients you receive from food can nourish each and every cell in your body? Well, the blood is what makes it all happen! Come learn about the components of your blood, how it moves through your body, and have a closer look about the function of red blood cells and the significance of their healthy circulation!

Science is wonderful! competition: The competition gave us the chance to find and know a primary or secondary school teacher eager to turn our research into an interactive learning resource for their pupils. There was a platform created by the organizers where we could match with teachers and develop a project together, submit it, and get famous!

Three teachers texted me and we collaborated together:

  • Dr. Katerina Kapodistria, a teacher in Athens-Greece. She is a secondary school teacher. Her idea was to develop a game around blood typing. The final game we created was about a crime scene investigation. This proposal has won the competition, and it will be professionally produced by the European Commission's Directorate-General for Education, Youth, Sport, and Culture and translated into the EU's 24 official languages.
  • Julián Mª Cano Villanueva, a secondary school teacher in La Pedrera Blanca-Cadiz, Spain. I gave a presentation to his class on the 12th of December and we started to create a card game called "Globuland". The game was not finished by January 9th 2023 (the deadline), but we submitted it anyway. Here is a link on their school's webpage, describing what we did.
  • Juan Vaquero Navarro, a primary science teacher at Colegio Nueva Castilla, Madrid-Spain. The idea was to develop something over the heartbeat and the circulatory system. We couldn't develop it a lot although the proposal was submitted.

Over 500 researchers and teachers took part in the competition with more than 100 submitted proposals. Three proposals were only selected! Gladly my proposal with Katerina won the competition!

My experience

Science Is Wonderful! was one of the most rewarding experiences for me as an MSCA researcher. I had the opportunity to meet over 4000 pupils and to inspire them with passion and creativity during a 2-day science festival. It was enriching not only for the students but indeed for us researchers. We could meet other MSCA researchers from other ITNs. I highly encourage all MSCA fellows to participate in such a great event in their journey.