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REN and Sociedade Portuguesa de Física recognise work on electromagnetic fields and health

 

Did you know that electric and magnetic fields are stronger when we are sitting with our laptop computer than when we travel by train? And did you know that electromagnetic fields from a very high voltage power line can be on the same order as those of a television set turned on very near us?

These are just some of the conclusions of the three projects that have won this year’s MEDEA Award-(http://medea.spf.pt). MEDEA, an initiative sponsored by the Portuguese Society of Physics [Sociedade Portuguesa de Física (SPF)] with the support of REN, invites secondary and higher education students to measure electric and magnetic fields at schools, in their homes and near electric power lines.

REN has sponsored the MEDEA project since 2008, and more than 100 schools, around 500 students and 150 teachers from all over the country have participated in the project so far. The invitation to the secondary and higher education students is simple: all participating schools receive an electric and magnetic field meter and the students are challenged to submit a paper showing the results and interpretation of their readings. Final judging of the projects was done by a panel designated by the SPF.

“Tesla Squad” (http://teslasquad.wix.com/project), a team of students from the Universidade de Lisboa Faculty of Sciences; “Os Vieirinhas” (http://vieirinhas6.wix.com/medea), from the Basic Education School, 2nd and 3rd cycle, and Vieira de Araújo Secondary School in Vieira do Minho; and “Super Teslas” (http://superteslas.blogspot.pt), from Fajões Basic Education and Secondary School in Oliveira de Azeméis, were the winners of the 2014 awards.

This initiative has several objectives. In addition to helping students acquire better scientific knowledge and develop a critical mind-set, students are also “encouraged to seek out credible scientific information on the possible effects of electromagnetic fields on human health”, explains Maria José Ribeiro Gomes, scientific coordinator of the MEDEA project. She remarks on the students’ surprise when they see the results, especially when they conclude “that the effects caused by the magnetic field created by very high voltage power lines, despite having an effect on the human body, this effect is not significant compared to the various other pieces of equipment that surround us and accompany us every day”.

Francisco Parada, REN’s Quality, Environment and Safety Manager, says that REN sees this project as “a free environment that is essential for properly informing and educating students, as well as for promoting dissemination of science in a practical way”.

The MEDEA awards were handed out during the 19th National Physics Conference [Conferência Nacional de Física] and the 24th Iberian Meeting for Physics Education [Encontro Ibérico para o Ensino da Física], which is underway until 4 September at Instituto Superior Técnico, in Lisbon.

About the MEDEA project:

The MEDEA project is a joint initiative of the Portuguese Society of Physics and REN - Rede Eléctrica Nacional, S.A. designed to promote the study of physics among Portuguese youths and society at large. In particular, MEDEA sponsors the measurement of the very low frequency (0 a 300 Hz) electric and magnetic fields produced by electrical equipment or circuits in schools, homes and in the vicinity of electric power transmission lines.

The MEDEA project is a joint initiative of the Portuguese Society of Physics and REN - Rede Eléctrica Nacional, S.A. designed to promote the study of physics among Portuguese youths and society at large. In particular, MEDEA sponsors the measurement of the very low frequency (0 a 300 Hz) electric and magnetic fields produced by electrical equipment or circuits in schools, homes and in the vicinity of electric power transmission lines.

The MEDEA project is a joint initiative of the Portuguese Society of Physics and REN - Rede Eléctrica Nacional, S.A. designed to promote the study of physics among Portuguese youths and society at large. In particular, MEDEA sponsors the measurement of the very low frequency (0 a 300 Hz) electric and magnetic fields produced by electrical equipment or circuits in schools, homes and in the vicinity of electric power transmission lines.

The MEDEA project is a joint initiative of the Portuguese Society of Physics and REN - Rede Eléctrica Nacional, S.A. designed to promote the study of physics among Portuguese youths and society at large. In particular, MEDEA sponsors the measurement of the very low frequency (0 a 300 Hz) electric and magnetic fields produced by electrical equipment or circuits in schools, homes and in the vicinity of electric power transmission lines.

The MEDEA project involves the simultaneous participation of 20 top-quality educational institutions, each with one or more teams (and a teacher in charge in the case of secondary schools), where classroom learning is combined with application of scientific knowledge to deal with subjects of an extracurricular nature based on demonstrations and experiments conducted by the students themselves.

Participating schools receive an electric and magnetic field measuring device for very low frequencies to be used while carrying out the project. The SPF provides all the information needed to carry out the project on its website at www.spf.pt/medea. Each participating team must create a new web page exclusively dedicated to the MEDEA project where they will present all the results obtained, the research carried out and a final report. REN provides the measuring devices, training for the school teachers and presentations in participating schools, and gives out awards for the best work done in this area.