EU Universe Awareness (EU-UNAWE) was invited by the European Commission to participate in its activities for the Festival of Europe, which is taking place today in Brussels, Belgium. The exhibition hall in the European Commission could only accommodate a very small selection of the many EU-funded projects, so it is an honour for EU-UNAWE to be chosen to participate.
The Festival of Europe is an annual event and the highlight of a European-wide Open Day, with institutions across the continent holding special events. In Brussels, five European institutions – including the Parliament, Commission and Council of Europe buildings – have opened their doors to the public. In previous years, the Festival has attracted tens of thousands of people from across Europe. “We expect about 30,000 people to visit the European Commission today. Most of them will be families, which is why we invited EU Universe Awareness, as its hands-on activities are perfect to engage younger children,” says Charlotte Gugenheim, one of the organisers of the exhibition at the European Commission.
The exhibition hall covers all of the areas addressed by the European Commission, including science and innovation, sustainable development and employment. In the science and innovation section, the EU-UNAWE drawing workshop, called Deadly Moons, sits alongside stalls aimed at teenagers and adults. “We wanted to appeal to children of all ages, to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers, while also showing the public how we are spending our budget for research in science and innovation in Europe,” says Charlotte.
The exhibition is still ongoing, but the Deadly Moons workshop has already reached about 300 young children. Members of the EU-UNAWE team at the event are fluent in Dutch, English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, which means that someone is on-hand to communicate with the majority of the children in their native language.
Elsewhere in the exhibition hall, a non-profit foundation, called greenlight for girls, which aims to inspire girls of all ages to pursue careers in science and technology, were inviting children to try their hand at programming a miniature model of a Mars rover. “I like one-off days like this, held in unexpected places, where you can reach a wider audience than through traditional channels,” says Cheryl Miller from greenlight for girls.
Meanwhile, another Deadly Moons workshop is also being held today in the Boerhaave Museum in Leiden, the Netherlands. This second workshop is an opportunity for EU-UNAWE to contribute to the European Open Day in the Netherlands, which hosts the project’s International Office.