Einstein Telescope Education Centre lets pupils discover science behind telescope from school year '24-'25

Education center about Einstein Telescope gets place at Discovery Museum in Kerkrade

Whether the Einstein Telescope will actually be built in the Meuse-Rhine Euroregion remains to be seen. What will already have a place in the region is the Einstein Telescope Education Centre (ETEC). The ETEC will be located at Discovery Museum in Kerkrade, in the cube-shaped building section on the station side. The ETEC will be developed over the next year and will be open for a period of three years beginning in school year 2024-2025.

Co-creation with Maastricht University

The center, where people can be informed about the Einstein Telescope and already ongoing research, such as that conducted with the ET Pathfinder, will focus primarily on education. In an inspiring and innovative hands-on environment, upper secondary school students (with profiles nature & technology and nature & health) will soon learn more about gravity, black holes and other physics domains in the ETEC. Primary and lower secondary school students will go on a journey of discovery in the museum and learn more about the techniques needed to measure gravity. The content programs are developed in co-creation with Maastricht University. Dr. Gideon Koekoek, theoretical physicist at the Faculty of Science and Engineering, is providing the necessary expertise, as he did previously for the pop-up exhibition and the video series the museum made about the telescope. Dr. Koekoek: "Natural sciences have been booming in South Limburg. For example, Maastricht University is involved in global research into gravitational waves. By joining forces in the ETEC, everyone can see up close how gravitational waves help unravel the mysteries of the universe. That the South Limburg region plays such an important role in this is something we can be proud of."

Many partners

In recent months, several organizations (including Maastricht University, Mplooi Foundation, Municipality of Kerkrade, Einstein Telescope Project Group/Nikhef, Dutch Black Hole Consortium and Stichting Physica) have already backed this initiative of Discovery Museum in terms of content and financially. Last Tuesday, the Provincial Executive of the Province of Limburg gave the green light by pledging a contribution, thus completing the budget and allowing the project to start. In anticipation of the decision whether the Einstein Telescope will come to our region, Discovery Center and project partners are already investing with the ETEC in enthusing youth for science and technology.

Consequences for young people in South Limburg?

The final decision on where in Europe the Einstein Telescope will be built is getting closer. In 2025 it will be announced whether the advanced measuring instrument will be located in the Meuse-Rhine Euroregion. If the tip of South Limburg (along with neighboring parts of Belgium and Germany) becomes the location, it will have a major scientific, economic and social impact for the entire region. It will particularly affect the current generation of young people; after all, the Telescope is scheduled to be ready in 2035. As Stephan Satijn, deputy for Economy of the Province of Limburg, points out, "With this new center, even young people can already get a good idea of what the Einstein Telescope is all about. I look forward to a beautiful, low-threshold and accessible interpretation."

Citizens and businesses welcome too

Although the center focuses on education and young people, there are obviously more people who will be affected by the arrival of the telescope. Therefore, meetings for scientifically interested citizens and involved companies will also be organized in ETEC on a regular basis. Hans Gubbels, general director of Discovery Museum: "As the science and technology museum of the Southern Netherlands, we are the designated location for the ETEC. Students will find high-quality educational materials based on current, ongoing research. Citizens who want to learn more about the science behind it will soon be able to visit at regular intervals. Companies that want to come together to exchange knowledge about the technology surrounding the ET will find an inspiring environment to do so. Given the number of parties that have already joined the project, the initiative is widely supported." The latter is also endorsed by the partners. So says Stan Bentvelsen, scientific director of the Einstein Telescope EMR project office and director of Nikhef: "The ETEC is a fantastic initiative of Discovery Museum to which we as the Einstein Telescope EMR project office are happy to contribute. First, because the Einstein Telescope plays a central role in the center. Further, because Discovery Museum is a very good museum, to which this plan fits perfectly. Finally, perhaps most importantly, because children and growing young people experience here how important and fascinating engineering and STEM science are. These young people will soon be the people upon whom a bright and challenging future awaits in this region at the Einstein Telescope."

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