12 September 2016

REN and The Portuguese Physics Society reward the best works on electromagnets and health

REN and the Portuguese Physics Society delivered  the awards for the 7th edition of MEDEA, concerning the 2015/2016 school year, and for the 6th edition, concerning the 2014/2015 school year. This is an initiative which focuses on promoting knowledge of Physics among the Portuguese youth and in Society at large. The awarding of the trophies, which was attended by the by the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2015 , Arthur McDonald, took place during the 20th National Physics Conference, at the University of Minho, in Braga.

The nanoTeslados team, from Escola Secundária Amato Lusitano, in Castelo Branco, was the winner of the 7th edition, with honourable mentions awarded to Tech Force and Fisibiotagenicos, from Colégio Internato dos Carvalhos, in Vila Nova de Gaia, and Escola Secundária Dom Manuel Martins, in Setúbal, correspondingly. In the 2015 edition, the winning team was Flores MEDEA, from Escola Básica e Secundária das Flores, in the Azores, while the honourable mentions were awarded to the Oito homens e meio team, from Escola Secundária de Valongo and the Os Medievais team, from Escola Básica de Josefa de Óbidos.

During the year, over 500 students participated in the 7th edition of MEDEA, an initiative of the Portuguese Physics Society (Sociedade Portuguesa de Física - SPF) and Redes Energéticas Nacionais (REN) seeking to elucidate on the enigmas concerning electromagnetic fields, challenging secondary-school, college and polytechnic students to take experimental measures inside and outside the classrooms.

All of the participants had to draft a scientific project based on measurements of electric and magnetic fields of very low frequency, 0-300 Hz, in the surrounding environment, particularly in their schools, at home and in areas neighbouring electricity transmission lines; and to look for scientifically credible information concerning possible effects these fields had on human health. The participating schools receive an electric and magnetic field measuring device they use during the project. Each team then creates a webpage fully dedicated to the MEDEA in which it presents all obtained results, research conducted and other information relevant to the project. The final evaluation of the projects was carried out by a jury panel appointed by the SPF.

Established in 2008, this year the MEDEA Project had a record number of participants, as well as of enrolled teams, around 100, more than twice those participating last year, representing 57 Portuguese teaching institutions.

For Maria José Ribeiro Gomes, MEDEA's scientific coordinator, «the objectives of the MEDEA project were once again fully accomplished in this 7th edition, in which 500 students and 60 team-supervising teachers took part. The measurements, the individual projects of each team are always creative and challenging. They are a great information conduit in the scientific communication mission with Society, while promoting teaching and an interest in learning and knowing why. This prize ceremony, in the formal inaugural sitting of the National Physics Conference, goes beyond the recognition before the Physicists' community (and this year with the unique opportunity of interacting with the 2015 Nobel Prize); it serves as motivation for studying and for investigation, as well as encouraging the development and communication of the scientific culture value, aiming for the creation of talent and progress.»

Francisco Parada, in charge of REN's Quality, Environment and Safety division, notes that this initiative is «an area of scientific creativity essential for student's proper information and training, as well as for the promotion and dissemination of science as a key vector of the development of Society».

About the MEDEA Project:

The MEDEA project is an initiative of the SPF - Sociedade Portuguesa de Física and REN - Rede Elétrica Nacional, S.A., focusing on promoting knowledge of Physics among the Portuguese youth and in Society at large. Specifically, MEDEA promotes the measurement and scientific knowledge of electric and magnetic fields of very low frequency (0 to 300 Hz) produced by any electrical equipment or circuit, in schools, in their home environment or neighbouring power transmission lines.

MEDEA consists of the simultaneous participation of 20 institutions of excellence, each with one or more teams (and, for secondary schools, a teacher in charge) where training in the institution is combined with the usage of scientific knowledge in extracurricular topics, based on displays and experiments carried out by the students themselves.

Participating schools receive an electric and magnetic field measuring device for very low frequencies, which they must use during the project's execution. Afterwards, at www.spf.pt/medea, the SPF provides all required implementation information. Each participating team must create a webpage fully dedicated to the MEDEA project where it will present all obtained results, research conducted and final report. REN provides the measuring devices, schoolteacher training, talks at participating schools and rewards the best works in this area.

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