Analysis of students’ dietary habits

The project consists of data collection of students’ dietary habits. The data collection is being realized with the use of a dedicated app and smart phones. Students collect and analyze their dietary habits and that of their class/peers in order to support the research around indicators linked with childhood obesity; a soaring issue in Greece and globally. Students are introduced in Big Data techniques and analysis. Students collaborate with experts in the field (doctors, researchers in healthy nutrition, researchers in Big Data) and get a full insight in the specific research area.

The project aims to gather information on how healthy the behaviors and living environments of students are . With the collected information by many students we will try to detect which aspects of behavior and living environment are important to target in public health policies, so that healthy behavior can be encouraged, rather than discouraged, by the students’ living environment. The students that participate in the project (age 9 – 18) become citizen scientists by collecting data regarding their behavior and living environment with a smartphone application. Students answer questions, take pictures of food advertisements they encounter, and of the food they consume. This only take a few minutes per day.

The purpose of the study is to evaluate a series of real-life students’ dietary habits and physical activity. The data collected remain anonymous. Consent forms are signed by their legal guardians. Students who return signed consent forms and agree to participate receive registration tokens and instructions for downloading the mobile app. Students who do not agree to participate in the data collection, are only involved in the data analysis phase.

“Urban Climate and Human Bioclimatic” methodology

The combined effects of rapid urbanization, global warming, and Urban Heat Islands (UHIs; i.e., higher temperatures observed in cities compared to those of the rural surroundings) make the urban residents more vulnerable to the adverse health impacts arising from extreme heat conditions.

The aim of the present project is to increase students’ knowledge and awareness concerning the impacts of urban climate on humans. The students will learn about urban climate characteristics, UHIs and urban-scale climate change, and how these factors affect the human body. They will become “young scientists” examining the local climate in their school neighborhood in terms of meteorological and thermal comfort conditions.

 

(a) Climate change: Introduction to the new terminology (“climate crisis”), which more accurately reflects the catastrophe experienced by the planet and highlights the seriousness of the issue.

(b) Urban climate: Description of structural, environmental etc. characteristics of an urban area. The problem of widespread urbanization.

(c) Urban Heat Islet (UHI): UHI as the most representative environmental problem due to the climate crisis, which is due to abusive human interference in the local climate.

(d) Urban population: The combined effects of UHI and the most frequent, intense and longer-lasting – due to climate crisis – heat on city dwellers.

(e) Human biometeorology: Thermal comfort as one of the essential prerequisites for good quality of life. The factors of urban climate and the ways in which they affect the thermal balance of the human body and thus the thermal sensation of a person.

  1. f) School research work: (i) What are the characteristics of the local climate and thermal sensation in the school and surrounding areas? (ii) Are there differences in thermal sensation between two people? (iii) What are the most critical factors in creating these potential differences? (iv) There are areas that could be classified as “hot / cold spots” (areas of increased hot / cold stress). (v) What are the characteristics of these areas that make them “hot / cold spots”? (vi) What measures could lead to mitigation of hot / cold stress in these areas?

Student’s research work:

Students will try to answer the above research questions by performing the following research work:

(a) Record the meteorological conditions in seven (7) selected areas of the school and surrounding areas (see Annex 1).

(b) Recording of the subjective thermal sensation by each student at the seven (7) selected measurement points (see Annex 2).

(c) Calculation of the objective physiologically equivalent temperature (PET) at the seven (7) selected measurement points based on meteorological recordings using specialized software (RayMan).

(d) Editing the data obtained using Microsoft Excel. Analysis and discussion of results. Drawing conclusions.

Recording (a) and (b) will take place by students for at least one (1) day within three months (eg November, January, April) during the school year to take into account seasonality during the analysis of results.

Upper High school students will be given additional meteorological data for the measurement periods, coming from three automatic meteorological stations of the National Observatory of Athens (NSA) / meteo.gr: (i) Athens Center (Gazi) – Urban Station, (ii) Vrilissia – suburban station, (iii) Pallini (School of Ellinogermaniki Agogi ) – rural station. The aim is to study the differences between the meteorological conditions of the three regions and in particular to examine the phenomenon of UHI.

The calculation of the PET index for each measurement period will be carried out by the researcher in charge. The processing of data (d) will be carried out by students in groups of 5-7 persons. At the end of the school year each team will present its research work. The presentation will include the group’s conclusions on thermal conditions in the school environment, as well as its proposals for local climate adaptation measures in the context of a sustainable development plan and response to the climate crisis.

Studying the spatial distribution of sandflies vector species of leishmaniosis in an endemic area like Madrid region (Spain)

One of the initiatives which is being carried out within the BRITEC project in Madrid is the study of leishmaniosis disease, as it has been in the spotlight since the largest human leishmaniosis outbreak in Europe affected the south-west area of Madrid region in 2009.

From the very beginning, pupils will be taking part in the analysis of sand fly abundance, paying special attention to the competent disease carriers named Phlebotomus perniciosus and P. ariasi. Firstly, they will build several light traps to collect phlebotomine sand flies. A prototype already designed and handmade with recycled materials with the collaboration of Medialab Prado, a citizens’ laboratory in Madrid, will be used as a model for pupils.

During phlebotomine sand flies’ activity season in Madrid region (from May to mid October), students will place traps late in the afternoon and recover them early in the morning, as they present nocturnal activity. Students will choose several places around the school to collect them and will be allowed to use smartphones for registering geographical location (GPS data), as well as taking photos of traps. The school garden could be a good location to place these light traps, as well as places near residential areas or near buildings housing animals. Finally, they will select sand flies among all other flying bugs captured under a binocular magnifier.

Bear in mind that this pilot initiative is planned to be implemented during this academic year, so do not forget to check this website to know more about the highly interesting news that are coming!

Photo of one of the light traps that will be used in the pilot experiment.

Can volunteer participation train a machine-learning platform to create an efficient system to analyse microscope images for cancer research?

Taking into account the highly concern of society towards well-being and health, this pilot initiative addresses the study of cancer, together with the automation of a machine used to analyse microscope images of this disease.

Which is going to be the contribution made by our pupils in Madrid to this initiative? Via a web platform, students will be in charge of studying microscope images of cells treated with potential drugs by answering basic questions of each cell such as “Is this cell alive?” or “Is there any content release?”. Thereby, students will know what is happening in each cell culture, at the same time they are helping researchers to know in every moment how the samples of these potential drugs are working. On top of that, a machine learning platform will be trained to be able to process these images automatically thanks to students’ answers.

For the fruitful success of this initiative, students will be informed in class about the impact of the project, whereas researchers will be willing to help teachers to prepare didactic material for students. Besides, pupils can access to the platform either during a special class at the computer room of their school or at home. It should be highlighted that there are no technical constraints for the duration of the project, so it is up to schools taking part in the project.

Do not wait to know more about this interesting research problem checking out the latest news that will be published in this website!

Microscope images of cells available at the web platform

Analysing the opportunities offered by school environments

Are the lightning, temperature and sound of your classroom suitable for your learning process? is one of the main questions to be answered within one of the initiatives proposed within the BRITEC project to be taken in Madrid.

During the development of this project, students will determine the level of lightning, temperature and sound of their classrooms by using free apps, which can be easily downloaded by mobile phones or tablets.

As a result, students will be able to develop graphs and determine areas of lightning, temperature and sound within their classroom, as well as contrast their measurements with those obtained by more technical instruments in order to check the relative error made by their electronic devices.

In the end, all the data collected during the research could be share among the educational community to inform about the current situation of these places and the recommended standards for students as usual users of these facilities.

Do our classrooms fulfil the requirements stablished? Stick with us for further information!

Photo of the Physics Toolbox Sensor Suite app, which could be used to measure the physical magnitudes mentioned.

Hydromorphological characterization of several river sections of the Community of Madrid

The aim of this pilot experiment is to evaluate a protocol recently published, which improves the analysis of the ecological state of a river from a hydromorphological point of view. Our project would try to check if this protocol is possible to be applied in Madrid region (Spain) rivers and analyse the results that it provides.

In order to do so, a group of schools distributed in different river basins will be selected to carry out the pilot experiment at several points, from head to bottom of the river, where it is assumed that a gradient of degradation will occur. In each of the points chosen, different groups of students will determine the three elements of hydromorphological quality in which the work is divided: hydrological regime, continuity of the river and morphological conditions.

At the beginning of the project, awareness-raising activities will be carried out, highlighting the importance of maintaining the morphological and hydrological diversity in a river to conserve an adequate environmental status and its bio-diversity.

If your school is located in Madrid and either it is near a river or there is not any difficulty in getting to one, we are eager to know your school and students and, on top of that, to start working together!

Screenshot of an introductory video about managing flood risk

 

Observing of seasonal change of river riparian vegetation and microclimate of river valleys

Another initiative proposed within the BRITEC project is Observing of seasonal change of river riparian vegetation and microclimate of river valleys. This topic will be implemented in selected schools from October 2019. To participate in this initiative, we especially invite schools that are located near the river, or those that will be able to get there.

The aim of this initiative is to learn how seasons affect the river vegetation and microclimate river conditions and to monitor the changes. The project will show how commonly used electronic devices may provide valuable information about the environment. Students will have a chance to be involved in the gathering and analyzing the scientific data. Students will be involved in the monitoring of riverbank vegetation and meteorological conditions in different specific locations. They will provide data for further scientific analysis of seasonal changes of the vegetation and microclimate river conditions for a different type of the rivers. Students will be taking photographs as well as simple meteorological measurements. The frequency of observation will depend on hydrological conditions of the specific place of observation. However, the minimum per month is recommended, and should not be less than once per season.

Narew River, photo by A. Bielonko

UV radiation and Vitamin D3

Scientists from Institute of Geophysics, Polish Academy of Sciences propose studies on Vitamin D3 gain thanks to ultraviolet radiation, as an idea of pilot of Citizen Science actions to be run at Schools from October, 2019.

If you would like to know whether it is possible to gain adequate dose of vitamin D3 thantks to UV radiation during the time spend outdoors, for example during field trips with your pupils, you definitely should consider taking part in this initiative!

The idea is to let pupils measure UV radiation and calculate vitamin D3 doses gain, using formulas provided by scientists. Pupils can also calculate the risk of sunburn and determine ‘safe’ duration of sun-tanning, taking into account their individual skin phototype. The research will rely on UV measurements and observation of skin area exposed to sun (depending on clothing). UV meters will be provided and pupils will be properly trained beforehand. The measurements can be taken during field campaigns, e.g. field trip with class, from 10 am to 2 pm.

The output can be very useful for outdoors activities, participants can gain valuable information about positive and negative effects of sun-tanning.

Stay tuned for more information!

Composition of two photos: one taken with the ultraviolet camera and the second one in the visible light, where you can see changes caused by the Sun (photoaging).

STEM DISCOVERY WEEK

SDW19 banner

STEM Discovery Week 2019 is a joint international initiative that invites projects, organisations and schools across Europe and around the world, to celebrate careers and studies in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). The tagline for this year’s campaign is “best practices in using innovative STEM resources”. The primary focus of this year’s campaign, is to showcase how teaching materials and other learning resources are used in educational activities.

Interested to become a partner?

By committing to the STEM Discovery Week 2019, the partners agree to:

  • Organise and share information about activities or actions in STEM education as part of the STEM Discovery Week campaign.
  • Encourage third parties to support and join the initiative by organising STEM activities or actions of their own and share information about them as part of the STEM Discovery Week campaign.
  • Publish on their web page informationin support of the STEM Discovery Week campaign, hence facilitating an active exchange of information among projects, organisations and schools.

For more information on the registration steps that potential partners need to follow, please consult this document here.

Are you organising a STEM activity around April 2019?

Include it on the map! Participants organising STEM activities and actions from 1 February to 30 April 2019 may also enter the STEM Discovery Week competitions. Visit the competitions’ section on the Scientix online portal for more information here.

STEM Discovery Week activities’ map