Astronomical Society Višnjan has presented a new laboratory equipped through a donation made by Hrvatski Telekom within the Together We Are Stronger competition. It is a unique laboratory in Croatia which enables interdisciplinary research conducted by pupils and it can be adapted for highly-specialised projects in the fields of biology, astrobiology, and chemistry.
The construction and equipping of the laboratory enables the implementation of year-long programmes of a higher level of quality, in addition to providing pupil comfort and safety. Due to its equipment, the laboratory meets the requirements for conducting the introductory practice to work in chemistry, microbiology, biology, and astrobiology laboratory for elementary school pupils, as well as the requirements of specialised projects for secondary school pupils.
“Investment in technology and science is imperative for social progress, and this laboratory marks an extremely important breakthrough, as it gives us the opportunity of involvement of up to three times more children compared with thus far in science popularisation projects. The interest in science shown amongst our children is immense, and the justification of investment has already been confirmed by the first results achieved, as well as the requirement for further expansion of similar projects. We are delighted to have found a partner in Hrvatski Telekom, through whose support we will certainly enable our children at least to attempt to become scientists or technologists”, noted Korado Korlević, Head of Scientific Educational Centre and President of the Astronomical Society Višnjan.
Depending on the configuration, the Višnjan-based laboratory can accommodate ten pupils for simpler practice or five to six pupils for research work. Laboratory resources management is using Lab, a Croatian software for laboratory resources and protocol management.
"This is the only laboratory of this type available to Croatian pupils. It gives them the opportunity to become involved in classical analytical chemistry, as well as to gain insight into spectroscopic methods, to conduct ecological, biochemical, and microbiological research, and maintain algae cultures and plant tissue under sterile conditions”, explained Petar Čuček, Education Programmes Director at the Astronomical Society Višnjan.
“HT was amongst the first to have pointed out the importance of STEM and practical education for future generations of young experts in the field of natural sciences. This laboratory is an extremely important example for the development of future experts, since it provides children with the opportunity to gain insight into exciting scientific work, which will impact their interests and help them in opting for STEM education and career. Consequently, Hrvatski Telekom continues with the implementation of STEM projects intended for elementary school pupils, whilst the projects STEM Hub, Hackathon, and Idea Knockout are used to build a platform intended to connect the academic and the student community. In the forthcoming future, HT is planning to involve also secondary schools in STEM projects, which will mean that all the target groups have been involved”, emphasised Iva Lopac Butorac, Director of the Human Resources Department at Hrvatski Telekom.
During the presentation, the pupils who have already worked at the laboratory presented the projects implemented thus far. Hence, the representatives of donators, the media, and the local community had the opportunity to see the optimisation of microalgae cultivation conditions and their use in the Biodiesel project, as well as the MFC project that involves development of biological fuel cells for wastewater purification and electricity generation. Moreover, the Geomar project was also presented, focusing on chemical, microbiological, and geological characterisation of small methane seeps on the west coast of Istria.
In addition to equipping the laboratory, the Astronomical Society Višnjan, due to the donation made through the Together We Are Stronger competition worth HRK 350,000, tripled the number of pupils of both elementary and secondary schools attending the workshops and programmes within the introductory programme to science entitled HT Campus. The donation ensured the involvement of a larger number of teachers, mentors, assistants, and volunteers working with young people in STEM fields.
In addition to the project implemented by the Astronomical Society Višnjan, this year HT has donated the identical amount of HRK 350,000 also to the project Internet of Things in Croatian Elementary Schools, implemented by the Institute for Youth Development and Innovativity headed by Nenad Bakić. During the past 11 years, the value of investment implemented by HT through the Together We Are Stronger competition has exceeded HRK 9 million, providing support to a total of 240 valuable projects.