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