23 June 2021

Elementary and Secondary School of Carrazeda de Ansiães wins MEDEA with a study on the impact of electromagnetic fields on health

A team of students from the Elementary and Secondary School of Carrazeda de Ansiães, Bragança district, was the big winner of the 12th edition of MEDEA, an initiative of the Portuguese Physics Society (SPF) and REN - Redes Energéticas Nacionais, aimed at promoting knowledge of Physics and the study of electromagnetic fields among the Portuguese youth and society in general. Two honourable mentions were also awarded, to school teams from Valongo and Penafiel.

The 'Harmónicos' (Harmonics), consisting of Ivo Moutinho, João Fernandes, Margarida Carvalho and Pedro Custódio, students of the 12th grade of Physics from Carrazeda de Ansiães, under the coordination of the teacher Carlos Pires, carried out 385 magnetic field measurements in a stretch of a high-voltage line between two posts. According to the project's findings, the values obtained are 'well below the limit' set by the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection, 'with possible negligible effects on health'.

The winners were announced at a ceremony held today via videoconference and attended by representatives of REN, SPF and the winning teams. 

MEDEA's jury also awarded two honourable mentions. A group of students from the 11th grade of the Computer Programmer course of the Professional School of Valongo, the 'ViziHertz', carried measurements around a transformer substation and under an energy transmission line. The team consists of António Soares, Luís Ramalho, André Matos and Rafael Conceição, with teacher Bruno Bessa Pinto as their mentor. 

As for 'Os Eletricistas' (The Electricians), they are Marco Maia and Joana Ferreira, from the 12th grade of the Secondary School of Penafiel, having as mentor the Physics teacher Sílvia Machado. The team carried out field measurements in the household context, but also near an energy transmission line. The finding was clear: the intensity of the magnetic fields, both from household appliances and high-voltage power lines, is below the set reference value.

The 13th edition of MEDEA will open for applications on 21 October 2021. Students can sign up at http://medea.spf.pt/inscricao/.  
About MEDEA:

Launched in 2008, MEDEA is a project of the Portuguese Physics Society and REN - Redes Energéticas Nacionais, aimed at 10th to 12th grade secondary and vocational school students. It enables practical application of the training provided in the educational institutions, by combining scientific knowledge with the students' everyday lives via experiments carried out by the students themselves, inside and outside the classrooms.

The participants prepare a science project based on measurements of electrical and magnetic fields of very low frequency (0-300 Hz) in the environment, specifically at their school, at home and in the vicinity of electric power transmission lines; and on the search for scientifically credible information concerning possible effects of these fields on human health. Participating schools receive an instrument to measure electric and magnetic fields that the students use during the project. Each team then creates a website dedicated exclusively to MEDEA, where the team presents all results obtained, searches performed and other information relevant to the project. The teams with the best projects will be awarded.


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