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Teachers Developing a Mini-planetarium and School Gardens Receive the Novo Nordisk Foundation Science Teacher Prize

Helle Houkjær (left) and Lone Skafte Jespersen, both teachers at Krogårdskolen in Greve, and Vibeke Prip Larsen (right), teacher at Arden Skole in Arden, have been selected as this year's recipients of the Novo Nordisk Foundation Science Teacher Prize.

Lone Skafte Jespersen and Helle Houkjær teach science at Krogårdskolen in Greve, near Copenhagen. They and their students collaborated to build a planetarium using natural materials such as clay, stone and straw that can benefit all students in their municipality. The planetarium has a 360-degree star celestial projector that can show the universe and planets in a dome in the ceiling.

Vibeke Prip Larsen is a science teacher at Arden Skole in Arden, near Aalborg. She launched the school’s science and innovation module and created school gardens in international collaboration with schools in four other European countries. Vibeke and her students planted native trees and bushes and sowed a small vegetable garden.

All three teachers managed to stimulate their students’ curiosity about science and helped to root the natural sciences firmly in their respective schools.

In recognition of their exceptional efforts, the teachers have been awarded the 2016 Novo Nordisk Foundation Science Teacher Prize. Two Prizes are awarded annually to teachers in primary and lower-secondary schools: one in eastern Denmark and one in western Denmark. Extraordinarily, this year two teachers are sharing the prize for eastern Denmark.

Each prize is accompanied by DKK 250,000, divided into a personal award of DKK 50,000 and DKK 200,000 for the school.

Rasmus Bjerregaard, Principal of Krogårdskolen, says:

“Helle and Lone are really inspirational and professionally and personally committed, so I think their wonderful efforts fully deserve to be recognized. The accompanying money allocated to the school will be used to support the school’s scientific profile in collaboration with Helle and Lone.”

Jan Helge Nielsen, Principal of Arden Skole, says:

“Vibeke and her colleagues have made their students more curious and interested about science. She puts ideas into practice and brings the surrounding world into the classroom. I think that Vibeke thoroughly deserves this recognition for her outstanding work.”

Birgitte Nauntofte, CEO, Novo Nordisk Foundation, says:

“It is important we have and appreciate talented science teachers in Denmark. They help to cultivate and encourage the talent pool within the natural sciences, the health sciences and technology. This will ultimately contribute to ensuring Denmark’s future prosperity and competitiveness.”

Helle Houkjær says:

“We appreciate receiving the Prize to recognize our work. We will definitely be using the accompanying money for new creative science projects that will make use of our students’ knowledge.”

Lone Skafte Jespersen says:

“We have collaborated on many science projects, but I want to highlight our Green Flag environmental projects. These have especially committed and motivated our students, enabling them to use their knowledge to make a difference.”

Vibeke Prip Larsen says:

“I am absolutely honoured and humbled to be nominated by my fellow teachers. I could not have done this without the help of my talented colleagues and sympathetic leadership. Thank you so much.”

The Prizes will be awarded at a ceremony on 26 April 2016 during the finals of the Young Scientists competition in Copenhagen.


The Novo Nordisk Foundation Science Teacher Prize recognizes and publicizes extraordinary efforts in science teaching at primary and lower-secondary schools in Denmark.

Each Prize is accompanied by DKK 250,000, divided into a personal award of DKK 50,000 and DKK 200,000 for the school. The award given to the school is to be used for developing science teaching, such as acquiring new teaching materials or upgrading classrooms or equipment for science teaching.

The Prize is awarded to a primary and lower-secondary schoolteacher based on the nomination of the principal. The students, parents, colleagues and principals at the teacher’s school may all make suggestions, but the principal of the teacher’s school must make the nomination. Based on the nominations received, a committee under the auspices of the National Centre for Learning in Science, Technology and Health in Denmark (Astra) and the Novo Nordisk Foundation selects the Prize winners.


Krogårdskolen: Rasmus Bjerregaard, School Principal, tel.: +45 5180 3182

Arden Skole: Jan Helge Nielsen, School Principal, tel.: +45 2623 5879

Christian Mostrup Scheel, Press Officer, Novo Nordisk Foundation, [email protected], mobile: +45 3067 4805