High schools students, geography teachers, and Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) researchers gathered in Belval Innovation Campus on 3 July 2018 within the framework of the SCALE project. SCALE is a Promoting Science to the Public (PSP) project led by LIST and funded by the Luxembourg National Research Fund. Within this project, Luxembourg high school students sampled rainfall amount and stable isotopes in Luxembourg. Beyond the idea of crowdsourcing of sampling, the project brought science to Luxembourg’s society and aimed to generate a positive perception of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects to high school students.
A total of 11 high schools across Luxembourg representing 300 students and their geography teachers participated in this initiative since the beginning of 2018. Lycée classique de Diekirch, Lycée Nic Biever in Dudelange, Lycée Hubert Clément in Esch, Lënster Lycée in Junglinster, Lycée Technique Mathias Adam in Lamadelaine, Lycée Michel Lucius in Luxembourg, Lycée Robert Schuman in Luxembourg, Sportlycée in Luxembourg, Lycée Josy Barthel in Mamer, Lycée du Nord in Wiltz and Lycée d’Echternach were all part of the project.
During the past 6 months, students acted as school scientists in hydrological research. They carried out a precipitation sampling campaign in collaboration with LIST researchers specialised in catchment and eco-hydrology. Thanks to that, they were able to understand the spatio-temporal variability of stable isotopic composition in rainfall at the country level. Experimental design, carrying out the experiment, as well as scientific data analysis were led by the students.
The school scientists also designed scientific posters explaining their research and findings and presented this to an audience, as real researchers in a scientific conference. The audience, composed of the project participants, gathered at the Belval Innovation Campus, at the University of Luxembourg on 3 July 2018. There, students also had the chance to hear about the current hydrological research challenges that researchers are facing, not only in Luxembourg but also world-wide. In addition to their presentation, Prof. Jan Seibert, a renowned hydrological scientist from the University of Zürich, Switzerland shared his experience on citizen science with them.
Besides having clear scientific benefits, this initiative had the chance to rise the interest among high school students for environmental questions related to global change and its impacts on water resources form a cohort of intricate problems and challenges that can only be tackled via interdisciplinary approaches. It also contributed contribute to paving the way towards new approaches in Geography teaching at secondary schools in Luxembourg
On a larger scale, within the SCALE project, LIST intends to raise awareness for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) careers and research in Luxembourg. SCALE is not the only project with that in mind. Some of LIST researchers indeed work on the European "Gender aware education and teaching" Gender4STEM project whose aim is to design a learning content recommendation system to support teachers in dealing with gender issues in secondary-level classes and increase girls' participation in STEM disciplines. This project is funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union.