This month, Horizon looks at the research shaping the lives of Europe’s younger generations, and heads to the classroom to learn how technology is transforming education.
Horizon finds out how one EU project could help swap textbooks for augmented reality and interactive video games, and we speak to Erki Urva from the Estonian Information Technology Foundation for Education, to hear how Estonia is pioneering digital education by incorporating IT training across the school curriculum.
Child prodigy Anne-Marie Imafidon, who gained an A level in computing at the age of 11, shares her views on how to close the gender gap and get more girls to study science, technology, maths and engineering subjects at university.
Horizon also looks at infant cognition, and in particular why parents should talk to their babies from as young as two months old, and interviews a researcher who explains how, for bilingual children, one language affects the way children learn to read the other.
On some streets in Europe, eight out of 10 children go to university, while in others it’s fewer than eight in 100. That’s according to an EU project which aims to reverse this trend by encouraging institutions to set up children’s universities and get young people to help change the way science is taught.
If more girls are to study science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects at university, then attitudes among parents and society at large must change – that’s according to Anne-Marie Imafidon, a speaker at the EU’s Innovation Convention in March 2014. She passed an A level in computing aged 11, and at 20, she obtained a master’s degree. She is the founder of Stemettes, an organisation which encourages girls to get into STEM subjects by connecting them with women working in the field.
By 2050, the world's population will be an estimated 9.7bn people, up from today’s 7.7bn. To feed this growing population whilst also protecting the climate and biodiversity, our food system needs to change dramatically. In May, we look at what sort of future food system we want and how to get there. We speak to sustainability expert Prof. Peter Jackson about how lockdowns have exposed our reliance on fragile supply chains, and what needs to happen to shape a more sustainable food system. We look at the smart farming solutions that are being explored to support food producers, and urban experiments from tackling food waste to strengthening organic, local production to see how these efforts can be scaled up to make a big difference. And we investigate insects – a protein-rich food and feed source – and the efforts behind mainstreaming what is still a niche science.
With the world in the grip of the coronavirus pandemic, in April Horizon takes a step back to look at some of the challenges around sudden outbreaks of emerging diseases. We speak to virologist Prof. Marion Koopmans about the likelihood of future outbreaks of new diseases, what causes them and how to spot them before they appear. We speak to scientists who are helping to develop tests for Covid-19 to understand the challenges in coming up with an accurate and detailed diagnostic test for an entirely new disease. We talk to people working on coronavirus treatments about how to shorten the normally lengthy process of drug development. And we look into why diseases suddenly jump from animals, such as bats, into humans and the particular challenges of spotting and responding to these types of outbreaks.
The iridescence of marble berries and the clever, light-bending perforations of microalgae are some lessons from nature that scientists are drawing upon to create biodegradable glitter and makeup pigments, and bionic algae to use in lasers or to clean pollutants.
Efforts to design a safe vaccine for Covid-19 are moving forward at full throttle, yet experts agree that it’s likely to be a year, at least, before an immunisation is ready. Meanwhile, scientists around Europe are exploring ingenious ways – including with the help of alpacas – to use the latest techniques in molecular manipulation to repair coronavirus-induced lung damage or to block the virus before it wreaks havoc.
Scientists are drawing on nature’s clever ways to build structures and produce iridescence.
Infection-halting therapies being explored include neutralising antibodies.
Metagenomics can help us spot emerging diseases such as coronavirus, says virologist Marion Koopmans.