Did you know electric and magnetic fields are stronger when you are sitting in front of your laptop than when you are travelling by train? And did you know that the electromagnetic fields created by a very high voltage line can be of the same order of magnitude as the one created by the TV in your house? These are just two of the discoveries made by senior pupils studying physics at Ponte de Lima Secondary School who attended the class organised by Ponte de Lima council, REN and the Portuguese Physics Society.
The class was part of the MEDEA project, which the Portuguese Physics Society and REN have been running since 2008 as a way of engaging with pupils, schools and teachers across the country by organising teams to study and compare the electric and magnetic fields surrounding us. The goal is to learn, disseminate science and clarify the established idea that very high voltage lines are more damaging than the domestic appliances and devices we use every day.
Present at the event was Maria José Ribeiro Gomes, who is the MEDEA project’s head of science, a professor in the Physics Department at Lisbon University and a researcher at the Instituto Superior Técnico’s CENTRA - Multidisciplinary Centre for Astrophysics.
About the MEDEA project:
The MEDEA project is a joint initiative of the Portuguese Physics Society 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.