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Novo Nordisk Foundation awards DKK 85 million for natural science education and outreach projects – and announces new application rounds

The Novo Nordisk Foundation has just awarded DKK 85 million for project grants for natural science education and for science communication and debate. In the beginning of 2021, the Foundation will launch a new application round.

A talk show for young people about natural phenomena, a travelling exhibition about tomorrow’s technology and a debate academy for researchers. These are examples of some of the 27 projects funded by the Novo Nordisk Foundation in December following calls for applications on “Project grants for natural science education and informal learning environments” and “Project grants for science communication and debate using novel communication platforms”.

The projects have a common purpose of promoting education in the natural sciences and strengthening interest, knowledge and competencies within science and technology among children, young people and the general public in Denmark. The common purpose gives rise to a variety of projects.

In addition to the above examples, an educational project from University College Copenhagen aims to improve STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) teaching in vocational education and training, and another project from the City of Copenhagen targets childcare institutions and will investigate how to increase the quality of natural science in early-childhood education among disadvantaged children.

The communication projects include one from musician and author, Sigurd Barrett, who will create several films, theatre concerts and a book on science for young children over the coming years. Adolescents and adults will benefit from a laboratory for virtual reality at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Stem Cell Biology, DanStem at the University of Copenhagen. Here visitors can get up close to DanStem’s stem cell research and examine their own stem cells in a strand of hair through virtual reality.

“At the Novo Nordisk Foundation, we are very impressed with the quality and ambition of the 27 projects being launched. These are excellent projects, and each project will clearly create commitment and strengthen knowledge about science and technology among children, adolescents and adults,” says Berith Bjørnholm, Senior Vice President for Education & Outreach.

Read more about the 27 projects below.

Four application calls in 2021
In 2021, applicants can apply for grants for projects within natural science education and informal learning environments. The purpose being developing materials, methods and resources, research on the didactics of natural science and developing the competencies of primary and lower-secondary teachers and of early-childhood educators.

In addition, the call for project grants for science communication and debate using novel communication platforms will return with a deadline for applications in autumn 2021.

In Fall 2021, the Foundation will also invite applications in a new call focusing on vocational education and training.

“We are pleased to continue our support for natural science education and outreach. We also look forward to particularly focus on STEM subjects in vocational education and training. We want to help ensure that graduates within STEM subjects have a strong scientific footing. Therefore, we want to help strengthen STEM competencies and its connection to practice in vocational education and training,” explains Berith Bjørnholm.

The call will enable individuals and organisations to apply for grants to develop resources for STEM teaching, to develop competencies among teachers and to develop projects that can strengthen the coherence between the STEM content in the basic subjects and the specialised subjects.

Read about the four upcoming calls on the Foundation’s website.

Spring 2021
Project grants for natural science education and informal learning environments

Autumn 2021
Project grants for natural science education and informal learning environments

Project grants for science communication and debate using novel communication platforms

Project grants for boosting STEM subjects in vocational education and training (in Danish)

The 27 projects receiving grants in autumn 2020

Project grants for science communication and debate using novel communication platforms:

Foreign Policy Aspects of Natural Science Research – On the Occasion of the 100th Anniversary of the Establishment of the Niels Bohr Institute
Charlotte Flindt Pedersen, Danish Foreign Policy Society, 1 year, DKK 495,650

A series of online talks will focus on the link between natural science and foreign policy. The project examines the international aspects of the natural sciences and their relevance to Denmark’s foreign policy based on topics such as research collaboration in space.

Magic Mud – Can Greenlandic Glacial Flour Make the Tropics Bloom?
Jakob Gottschau, Express TV-Production ApS, 3 years, DKK 1,351,400

Can Greenlandic glacial flour, the fine powder that the Greenland ice sheet scours off Greenland’s mountains, be used as fertiliser in nutrient-poor tropical soil? This documentary tells about the research on this topic and the challenges of applying it.

National Museum of Denmark x Heartland. A New Outreach Concept Across Denmark
Janne Villadsen, Heartland Festival, 1 year, DKK 1,526,160

The Heartland Festival joins researchers from the National Museum of Denmark, and personalities and practitioners of the culture scene in a new outreach format and delve into current themes with a surprising natural science approach. The project will include videos, podcasts and events at the National Museum of Denmark, the Heartland Festival and Kongernes Jelling – Home of the Viking Kings.

The Unity of Nature as a Graphic Novella
Jens Olaf Pepke Pedersen, Danish Center for Earth System Science, 2 years, DKK 398,000

The co-author of Ørsted – he electrified the world published in 2020 is now creating another graphic novella. This time the theme is physics and philosophy, and the author portrays nature’s substance, causality and the concepts of space and time.

Science Pavilion at the 2021 Roskilde Festival – Extraordinary Peculiarities and Where to Find Them
Jørgen Beck Hansen, Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, 1 year, DKK 165,000

The Niels Bohr Institute will join forces with the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) to demonstrate the joys of science at the Roskilde Festival with workshops, talks and the successful Science on Wheels, which brings experiments to young people in the tent areas.

Palm Oil in the Land of the Orangutans/The Plantation
Marianne Abildgaard, Copenhagen Film Company Short & Doc, 3 years, DKK 2,598,362

A documentary and an online game will focus on palm oil and nature conservation. The story is based on the partnership between Copenhagen Zoo and United Plantations, which strives to make the production of palm oil more sustainable by using solutions created by nature itself.

The Fibiger Center: A Cancer Discovery Centre and Satellites
Mef Nilbert, Danish Cancer Society, 4 years, DKK 6,000,000

The Danish Cancer Society is building the interactive Fibiger Center, a visitor centre where children and young people can learn about cancer research. In addition to the visitor centre in Copenhagen, mobile units are created to take cancer research knowledge around Denmark.

What the Brain Does Not Understand
Mette Heide, Plus Pictures, 2 years, DKK 1,928,351

This documentary will follow the research on obesity of Christoffer Clemmensen, Associate Professor at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research. The film delves into how the brain and body respond to weight loss and why losing weight is so difficult. – Natural Science in Jutland
Morten D.D. Hansen, Natural History Museum in Aarhus, 3 years, DKK 5,103,000

In this entertaining talk show for young people, well-known and unknown science communicators will celebrate “the week in the world” with reports on current natural phenomena nationally and globally.

CLOSED CIRCUIT – Theatrical Production, Book Release and Podcast Series
Niels Erling, AKT1 – Denmark’s Audio Theatre, 1 year, DKK 1,195,417

In the theatrical production CLOSED CIRCUIT, the audience enters a closed circuit in a spaceship with no prospect of landing on any planet. The project shows natural science in a new perspective and emphasises how people are connected to everything around them.

SCIENCE STREAM – A New and Unique Streaming Platform for Documentaries about Science and Technology
Niklas Engstrøm, CPH: DOX, 3 years, DKK 2,500,000

The Copenhagen international documentary film festival CPH:DOX is now launching a streaming platform with documentaries about science and technology. In addition to the films, the platform contains a knowledge universe, which places the films in the context of societal debate, science and dialogue.

Sigurd Talks about Science
Sigurd Barrett, Sigurds Butik, 2 years, DKK 3,996,500

Musician and author, Sigurd Barrett and musician and songwriter, Eskild Dohn focus on the natural sciences and tells young children about everything from the creation of the solar system and nuclear physics with 16 films, 100 theatre concerts, a book, a songbook, a CD and a boardgame.

Zooming In – Virtual Reality Engagement Lab
Simone Wenkel, University of Copenhagen, 2 years, DKK 1,831,654

With a laboratory for virtual reality at DanStem visitors can get up close to stem cell research, and by using virtual reality together with microscopy they will be able to examine real-life 3D landscapes of organisms, body parts and tissues.

Debate Academy for Science and Technology
Stine Carsten Kendal, A/S Information, 3 years, DKK 3,113,400

This initiative will ensure debate training for natural science and technology researchers who wish to improve on how they participate in the public debate with their research-based knowledge.

Bloom 2021–2023 – Innovative Outreach Projects on Nature and Science
Svante Lindeburg, Golden Days Foundation, 3 years, DKK 1,556,106

The Bloom Festival is expanded in this project with a digital version that extends beyond the physical festival site in Copenhagen. In the digital universe, people can learn about nature and science through video, podcasts, essays and art.

Tina Tarpgaard, Recoil Performance Group, 1 year, DKK 1,241,000

The body and gravity challenge each other in this project, in which the Recoil Performance Group presents Einstein’s theory of relativity as theatre with movement, music and visual expression.

Project grants for natural science education and informal learning environments:

Semantic Waves and Language Educational Snails: A New Approach to Science that Increases Participation Opportunities for Multilingual Students
Anna-Vera Meidell Sigsgaard, University College Copenhagen, 3 years, DKK 3,997,963

In collaboration with subject teachers, University College Copenhagen will investigate, test and evaluate a new approach to nature/technology teaching in which the science content is made available to students in a transition from everyday language to scientific language.

Early Scientific Curiosity – Initiatives that Strengthen Disadvantaged Children
Frank Olesen, City of Copenhagen, Department of Sustainable Development, 4 years, DKK 5,653,432

A study on how to create a science culture in 10 selected childcare institutions through a holistic and inclusive initiative focusing on children’s participation, the competencies of early-childhood educators, the learning environment in the childcare centres and close collaboration with the parents.

Holistic STEM Teaching in Vocational Education and Training
Henrik Hersom, University College Copenhagen, Department of Didactics and Digitization, 3 years, DKK 5,487,960

Development of new knowledge about how students in the EUD vocational education and training programme can benefit from learning STEM subjects and testing holistic teaching courses among teaching teams across STEM and vocational subjects.

Natural Science – Where You Are. Development of a New Scientific Outreach Profile at the Danish Museum of Science & Technology
Jacob Thorek Jensen, Danish Museum of Science & Technology, 3 years, DKK 4,550,673

In collaboration with science museums in the United Kingdom, the Danish Museum of Science & Technology will investigate how an informal learning environment can harness the concept of science capital to develop a new scientific outreach profile.

Seminar Series on Research on the Didactics of Science
Jens Dolin, University of Copenhagen, Department of Science Education, 6 years, DKK 4,817,832

A series of seminars and several learning communities on the didactics of science will strengthen research, collaboration and synergy among researchers at universities and university colleges and in informal learning environments.

Evaluation of the Science Competencies in Primary and Lower-secondary School (NATKOM Project)
Jørgen Løye Christiansen, University College Absalon, Centre for School and Learning, 3 years, DKK 4,213,149

Evaluation of Science Competencies in the Primary and Lower-secondary School (NATKOM Project) is a development and competence-boosting project that, in close collaboration with primary- and lower-secondary teachers, science supervisors and science resource auxiliaries, will develop new types of evaluation and tests that can better elucidate the competencies of primary- and lower-secondary students in science subjects.

Creating the People of Tomorrow – A Thought-Provoking Exhibition about Technology that Affects Our Existence
Kim Gladstone Herlev, Experimentarium, 2 years, DKK 5,992,899

A travelling exhibition about the science and ethics behind new technology. The visitors must make technology choices for Arbi, a child of tomorrow who ultimately, as an adult, tells about the consequences of the choices in areas such as love life, health, appearance and longevity.

MatLab – from Auditorium to Laboratory
Line Vinterberg Frandsen, TECHCOLLEGE, Aalborg, 4 years, DKK 4,918,340

A mathematics laboratory and developing the competencies of mathematics teachers in technical vocational education and training will focus on a more specific, experimental and application-oriented view of subjects that increases the students’ level of understanding and mathematical competencies.

In the Footsteps of Climate Scientists – Investigate and Understand Climate Change in the Arctic
Martin Stendel, Danish Meteorological Institute, 6 years, DKK 3,188,020

The development of interactive digital teaching material on the climate in the Arctic for primary and secondary schools. At, students have the opportunity to work with current data on ice caps, glaciers and icebergs collected by researchers from the Danish Meteorological Institute, the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, the Technical University of Denmark and the University of Copenhagen.

New Life in Education on Sustainability
Søren Witzel Clausen, VIA University College, Programme for Mathematics and Higher Science Education, 5 years, DKK 4,536,876

Based on the UNESCO guidelines for reorienting teacher education to address sustainability, a new didactic of sustainability will be developed with exemplary teaching courses in an iterative action learning course involving researchers, teachers and students at teacher colleges.

Our Smart Daily Lives
Teo Juel Geer, Danish Museum of Energy, 3 years, DKK 2,642,856

Development of film-based teaching material and a national idea and film competition in which students in grades 6 and 7 in Denmark will participate in workshops to develop, construct and film ideas for sustainable and technological solutions to climate challenges.

Further information

Christian Mostrup, Senior Programme Lead, +45 3067 4805, [email protected]