Space ideal flagship to encourage youngsters

Frank de Winne and Dirk Frimout show Prince Philippe ESA's Exomars rover
26 February 2008

It is vital that more youngsters opt for technical and scientific studies and careers, says an educational policy report recently issued by the Space and Education Forum of the Belgian Prince Philippe Fund, prepared in cooperation with the Belgian Science Policy Office and ESA.

The ‘Space for Science and Technology’ report was presented last week at the 'Space for Science and Technology' conference in Brussels. The importance of the Forum’s work was illustrated by the presence HRH Crown Prince Philippe of Belgium, accompanied by Belgian astronauts Dirk Frimout and Frank De Winne, ESA's Director of Legal Affairs and External Relations René Oosterlinck, and three Belgian ministers responsible for education and science policy.

Frank De Winne in ISS
Frank De Winne on board the ISS

The Prince Philippe Fund founded the Space and Education Forum in 2005 under the chairmanship of Frank De Winne, the Belgian ESA astronaut. The final report is based on international research and a survey among 500 teachers.

"More than ever we need youngsters to choose science and technology," said Frank De Winne. "Space is an ideal subject to accomplish this. Space is flashy and so it should be for young people. In all this, teachers have to play an important role. Without them we can do nothing. They should be supported."

Encouraging youngsters

Space inspires youngsters

The Forum wanted to find new methods of encouraging students and young people to opt for scientific or technical studies and to translate their talents and capacities into the required skills. In 2006 and 2007, the Forum was instructed to develop ideas and propose initiatives to raise the interest of young people in space and space research. More than 80 players have been involved. "They come not only from the space sector, but also from education," explained De Winne.

"The time is ripe to make youngsters aware of science and technology. The policy makers have to make space research a flagship theme," according to the Prince Philippe Fund.

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