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Natural science projects will teach and inspire children and young people

The Novo Nordisk Foundation has awarded DKK 100 million in grants for natural science education and outreach projects throughout Denmark. Photo from the Creepy Crawlies project of the Danish Rangers’ Association: Martin Rivero.

Upper-secondary students in Denmark will soon be able to build their own virtual base on Mars during physics classes using a new computer game created by researchers and game developers. Science journalists and researchers will tell the history of science and the world around us on YouTube and in radio programmes. In Tønder, lower-secondary students will leave their classrooms and visit companies to learn about the local aluminium industry as part of an open school programme.

The Novo Nordisk Foundation has awarded grants for the first time in open competition for these three projects and 16 others for education and outreach within the natural sciences.

All 19 projects focus on creating a sense of reflection and wonder about the natural sciences and on developing the teaching in this field.

The areas the grants cover include leisure activities for families and research on natural science education. They focus on natural science education, from preschool childcare centres to profession-oriented bachelor programmes at university colleges and higher education, which communicates the latest research to children and young people.

“The Novo Nordisk Foundation wants to support science education for children and young people, and we are proud to contribute to the major efforts being made in this area. We received many worthy and qualified applications from industrious professionals with inventive projects, and setting priorities among them was not easy,” says Berith Bjørnholm, Senior Programme Manager and Head of the Foundation’s newly established department of science education and outreach.

From creepy crawlies to the global climate

The projects supported included new ideas, substantial collaborations and the continuation of established projects. The three projects that received the largest grants all expanded existing platforms.

The ongoing Creepy Crawlies project of the Danish Rangers’ Association will continue to enable children in childcare centres and primary schools to explore the numerous small animals in their immediate vicinity; the results are broadcast on the Ramasjang channel of the Danish Broadcasting Corporation. Teaching children about the climate and sustainability are the focus of the Green Backbone project of Denmark’s green think tank CONCITO and the Haver til Maver (farm to table) association, which develops digital teaching material for primary and lower-secondary schools. The third major project is Videnskabsklubben (science club), enabling children in grades 4–6 to study science in their leisure time. Here children are taught and inspired by young junior mentors from grades 7–9 and senior mentors from upper-secondary schools, who create an alternative teaching environment with no adults.

Berith Bjørnholm says: “The Novo Nordisk Foundation is very aware of the balance between supporting the ideas spontaneously arising in the science communities and supporting long-term initiatives that we know take time to create sustainable changes in institutions. We focus on projects that will become a resource for science teachers and that will create positive experiences about science for children.”

More than 200 applications for projects from all over Denmark

The Foundation received 202 applications and thus far more project ideas than it could support within the allocated grant budget. The applicants included universities, university colleges, upper-secondary schools, municipalities, museums, non-profit associations and activists. The Foundation supported projects throughout Denmark.

The Foundation will welcome applications again in 2019 for these grants for education and outreach within the natural sciences. Further information will be available later in January.


The Foundation has awarded grants within science education and outreach for the following projects.

The Green Backbone – a natural science education programme

The green think tank CONCITO: DKK 19 million over 5 years

Course with a green curriculum for primary and lower-secondary schools


Creepy Crawlies – more young researchers outdoors

The Danish Rangers’ Association: DKK 17 million over 4 years

Learning about creepy crawlies in childcare centres and primary schools


Videnskabsklubben (science club)

Videnskabsklubben: DKK 15.8 million over 5 years

Grades 4–6 studying science in their leisure time, taught by students from grades 7–9 and students from upper-secondary schools


Developing a natural science marathon – initiatives in grades 5 and 6 are important

Naturvidenskabernes Hus A/S (House of Natural Sciences): DKK 8.3 million over 4 years

Company cases and engineering education in a natural science competition for students in grades 5–6


Mars base – a project on narrative game-based learning

Jesper Bruun, Department of Science Education, University of Copenhagen: DKK 5 million over 4 years

Computer game about a virtual base on Mars for physics students in upper-secondary schools



Jens Degett, DKK 5 million over 2 years

The history of science on radio and YouTube, live-streaming science salons and a conference on science journalism


Science Talent Senior

Astra – Centre for Learning in Science, Technology and Health in Denmark: DKK 5 million over 3 years

Developing talent and educational camps for young people at Science Talent Camp in Sorø


The virtual observatory at Denmark’s largest observatory

Brofelde Observatory, Municipality of Holbæk: DKK 5 million over 3 years

Northern Europe’s first virtual observatory and equipment for exhibitions in the domes


Bugdex App – changing the way we learn about insect diversity

Natural History Museum of Denmark: DKK 4.8 million over 4 years

Bugdex App – an insect app for the whole family


Everyday Physics (Hverdagsfysik)

Physics teaching with Søren Storm: DKK 3.1 million over 2 years

18 videos and e-books with experiments on Testoteket and Science Guides.


Alu (aluminium) Science Center Tønder

Tønder Upper-secondary School: DKK 2.3 million over 4 years

A collaboration between the local aluminium industry and the municipality’s primary and secondary schools


Mad about space – an interactive virtual learning environment about space, natural science and technology targeting students and teachers in grades 7 – 9 and upper secondary schools

National Space Institute, Technical University of Denmark: DKK 2.1 million over 2 years

Further development of communication and outreach about astronomy on for primary and upper-secondary schools


Sustainability + Education + Museums: Moving towards the Future with Science Museums and Sustainability Education

Marianne Achiam, Department of Science Education, University of Copenhagen: DKK 1.9 million over 3 years

Research on museum-based education about sustainability


Developing the quality of MONA

Department of Science Education, University of Copenhagen: DKK 1.4 million over 4 years

Developing the quality of MONA, a magazine for teachers of mathematics and science


Technology for final examinations

Skramloteket science and technology workshop: DKK 1.3 million over 3 years

Visits to Skramloteket for students in grades 7–9 focusing on technology in interdisciplinary subjects


Data analysis as the basis for conducting cancer research and developing precision medicine: an interdisciplinary course in biotechnology and mathematics at STX/HTX upper-secondary schools

Biotech Research & Innovation Centre (BRIC), University of Copenhagen: DKK 1.2 million over 4 years

Interdisciplinary course on cancer research in biotechnology A classes and mathematics A classes at STX/HTX upper-secondary schools


Rain forests, indigenous peoples and the climate balance sheet – moving on the global challenges

Forests of the World Copenhagen: DKK 1 million over 1 year

Films and teaching material about rain forests and climate for primary and lower-secondary schools.


Junior engineers

Center for Bachelor of Engineering Studies, Technical University of Denmark: DKK 0.4 million over 2 years

Visits to the Center for students in primary and lower-secondary schools


Knowledge about climate and climate change in the Arctic based on Polarportalen

Danish Meteorological Institute: DKK 0.3 million over 1 year

Teaching material on the part of the Institute’s website (Polarportalen) about climate change in the Arctic region for primary and secondary school students


Further information

Bente Guldbrandsen, Project Officer, Education & Outreach, phone: +45 3527 6676, [email protected].

Christian Mostrup Scheel, Senior Press Officer, phone: +45 3067 4805, [email protected]