New educational project on petrochemistry for stimulating young people's interest in science


The Association of Petrochemicals Producers in Europe (Appe) is launching a new project to raise awareness of petrochemistry among young people. Available in the European Union's 22 languages, the Xperimania project proposes inquiry-based science teaching and learning activities for secondary schools. The objective is to stimulate schoolchildren's interest in science education which is on the decline in Europe.

Coordinated by European Schoolnet, a network of 28 Ministries of Education, the project includes three main activities:

- Timeline of everyday objects: students investigate a petrochemistry-based discovery (from PVC to liquid crystal polymer) and illustrate what they have found out about it

- Hands on experiments: as a team, pupils set up an easy and fun experiment and upload laboratory reports

- Online chats with experts on specific topics related to petrochemistry's contribution to society.

Prizes will be awarded to the best experiments and most impressive contributions to the timeline of everyday objects, following evaluation by an expert team of science educators. Winners will be invited to a ceremony taking place in the Benelux region during 2008, at a research laboratory of a petrochemical company.

The project has been set up to address the decline in number of young people opting for science education. There are estimated to be 10% fewer chemistry graduates on an annual basis in Europe. "Europe needs young, bright and creative talents in order to remain a world leader in innovation", says Appe's Director Pierre de Kettenis. "They are essential to develop innovative solutions able to address tomorrow's challenges related to healthcare, food and water supply, and environmental protection. That's why science education has become a priority for the petrochemical industry, which provides the basic materials to most high-tech products."

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