Mobile science exhibitions arrive in Brussels

November 7, 2002

Brussels, 06 Nov 2002

EU Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin was given a tour of three mobile, EU funded science exhibitions currently on display in Brussels on 5 November. It is no coincidence that the exhibitions are in the heart of the EU during European Science and Technology Week.

Inspired by the UK campaign, 'poetry on the underground', organisers of 'Science on the Buses' want to drive home the message that science is part of everyday lives. The bus will tour all 15 of the EU's capital cities displaying posters with questions such as 'more lives or better lives?' The public, and in particular young people are encouraged to respond either via the project's web address, or by sending a text message.

'It is important to think about science for the future and important to know what young people think about science,' project coordinator Jochen Pichler from the University of the West of England told CORDIS News.

Another exhibition, 'Sm@rt on tour' is displaying new or adapted technology under the motto 'design for all'. The objective of Sm@rt (society moves with advanced research and technology) is to show how technology can be used to help people with disabilities, thus demonstrating how technology can be of benefit to the whole of society.

'The aim of the tour is to show how a toy for somebody can be a real help for somebody else,' Jan Engelen from the University of Leuven told CORDIS News.

The project's two specially constructed mobile trailers contain computers which can enlarge or read out text, allowing those with vision impairments to surf the Internet. A computerised board game allowing someone to move pieces around the board by moving their head in any direction is also included.

Mr Busquin was shown telephones displaying a picture of the person on the other end of the line allowing people to communicate through sign language. Visitors to the exhibition are also able to try virtual snowboarding, designed to help accident victims regain their sense of balance in an enjoyable way. Technology also enables those with no disabilities to experience how someone with vision impairments sees and how someone with hearing impairments hears.

The Sm@rt exhibition has already been to Denmark and Italy, and after Belgium, it will tour Sweden. Mr Engelen says that Greece and Japan have also expressed an interest in hosting the exhibition.

'Composites on tour' is a mobile exhibition explaining what composites are, why they are used, how they are produced and where they are used. The exhibition is housed in a large trailer, itself made exclusively from composites, making it a world first. This and two related exhibitions received a total of 0.5 million euro from the Commission.

The exhibition has already made 50 stops across the EU and received 35,000 to 40,000 visitors. The benefits of composites are shown by exhibits such as a wheel rim. Made out of steel, a rim weighs around 50kg, whereas the composite version weighs only 18kg.

'Composites used to make wind turbines combine the advantages of steel and polymers,' Professor Ignaas Verpoest from the University of Leuven told the Commissioner. They combine the low weight of polymers with the sturdiness of steel, he explained.

Following his tour, Mr Busquin commented that he had already read the documents relating to the projects, but that 'it is always better to see.' He also emphasised that 'Science Week shows that Europeans can work together.'

For further information on the projects, please visit: http://www.choosenow.net http://www.smartontour.nu http://www.compositesontour.be

For further information on Science Week, please visit: http://www.cordis.lu/scienceweek

CORDIS RTD-NEWS/© European Communities, 2001

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