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SUSTAIN is part of a New Platform for Science Engagement!

The platform is meant to inspire and share ideas, activities and formats for engaging different publics with sciences

The goals and characteristics of the new EUSEA Science Engagement Platform were defined in a collaborative process, uniting experts from the EU projects NUCLEUS and SUSTAIN plus qualified EUSEA members.

The platform is fully available for you to browse it and put in practice its diverse ideas! Just click here!

The partners agreed upon the following characteristics to make the platform unique and practical for professional users:

  • The EUSEA Science Engagement Platform will serve Public Engagement professionals across Europe and beyond in their needs to find inspiration, resources, methods and tools for running participatory, dialogue-oriented engagement activities in various institutional and national contexts.

  • As a continuous work in progress, this new platform will unite and showcase inspiring and innovative ways to engage different publics with science. A special focus of the examples will be on actively involving citizens and stakeholders in research and innovation processes.

  • The platform will have a clear European perspective, while being open to engagement formats from other countries: “European but Open to the World” will be the motto of this platform.

  • While there are several national Public Engagement platforms, there is until today no European version, compiling European examples, related to European concepts of Research and Innovation.

  • The platform will relate to European values and the European Innovation Model, which is human-centric and focuses on both socio-economic and social innovation.

  • The platform will reference and link to strategic approaches to engagement such as the Quadruple Helix Model, the Sustainable Development Goals, the Open Innovation Framework and the new concept of Mission-Oriented Research, which will be at the heart of HORIZON Europe.Background of the EUSEA Science Engagement Platform.

Testing the Spanish module in Lake Albufera!

Since February 2019, pupils from IES EL SALER School are testing the SPANISH module on Water Management for four months. They worked on a series of interactive modules and made three scientific posters that they will present to parents, teachers, project partners and stakeholders that have collaborated in the SUSTAIN project.

The module started on January 29, with six masterclasses to introduce the pupils to the topic. After this kick-off, students got trained on communication skills by researcher Jordis Peris, with a special focus on how to prepare interviews with stakeholders.

Following the training, the pupils had the chance to interview visitors that came to the school: a farmer, a nature conservationist, a local boatman and a local politician. They gave answers to the pupils` questions about the important role of the wetland in the area of La Albufera and La Devesa.

Guillermo Palau ran a Lego Workshop to obtain more ideas for a research project that the students should lead. Together with Guillermo, other researchers visited the school from the UPV -Politechnical University of Valencia-  to teach techniques to be used for the research project development and the elaboration of the scientific poster.

After that, the pupils started with their research. They divided into three groups and visited different places around El Saler and measured the diversity of plants, birds and the quality of water, depending on the scope of their project. Back in the classroom, each group analysed its results and visualised these outcomes in graphs for the different fields measured.

In our coming project meeting in Cyprus in September, we will present the module with all the learnings, and we will discuss how to retest the module for next year, looking for improvements.

Picture by Bruna Malcangi

Testing the Dutch module on biodiversity!

They measured biodiversity in an intensively and extensively farmed agricultural land and compared the outcome to tackle the question “what is the effect of different agricultural management on biodiversity”.

The module started this spring with a masterclass to introduce the pupils to the topic ( See News from April). After this kick-off, Jeroen Onrust – a researcher from the ecology group GELIFES of the University of Groningen - visited both schools to give a lecture on worm ecology in grassland ecosystems. He explained the important role different species of earthworms have in agricultural landscapes and how meadow birds - like the black-tailed godwit - depend on them. He also shared the ins and outs of performing a scientific experiment according to responsible research guidelines.

After that, the pupils started with their research. They visited several farms in the region of the city of Leeuwarden and measured the diversity of plants, soil organisms, flying insects, birds and mammals using methods such as spades, insect traps and wildlife cameras.

Back in the classroom, they identified species and counted their numbers. They analysed the results and visualised these outcomes in graphs for the different fields measured. Pupils of Piter Jelles – one of the two schools - organised a public event for parents, teachers, project partners and stakeholders to share what they learned from the research. They gave a series of informal presentations that showed the results of the comparative study and a blog of the fieldwork. They challenged the audience by testing their knowledge with a quiz.

The first test of the module was a great success. The pupils learned a lot about food web structures in a grassland ecosystem and doing research. We – the Dutch team that developed the module - learned a lot as well. At our coming meeting in Cyprus in September, we will present the module with all the things we learned from it so that we can discuss improvements the module for next year.

Kick-off of the Dutch learning module with a Master Class in Leeuwarden.

Students reflect and learn about the coming citizen science project where they will be the leaders!

On April 9th the first run of the Dutch module on Sustainable Landscapes and Food-Web Structure in agricultural land had its official kick-off with a masterclass. A group of more than 40 pupils from Leeuwarder Lyceum and de Lindenborg got their first taste of the research project that they will work on for the coming 8 weeks.


The masterclass started off in Leeuwarden with an introduction by Maaike de Heij – project coordinator of SUSTAIN – and continued with a talk by agricultural and landscape management specialist Jetze Genee from the Province of Friesland. Jetze talked about the efforts and challenges to protect the Frisian meadows and its inhabitants. Following that, researcher Raymond Klaassen spoke about the economic, ecological and societal balance that is needed to maintain sustainable landscapes. He then went on to challenge the pupils to be aware of their own role in this complicated issue.

The second part of the day, consisted of the pupils visiting a farm in Ryptsjerk run by Pieter de Vries and his family. He shared the daily goings-on of his farm and explained the efforts he makes to support meadow birds on his land. To bring the masterclass to a close, the pupils set out in two groups to discover the landscape and the natural diversity at their own hands. Armed with telescopes and field guides they studied the variety of plant and bird species at different locations. They were excited to find out more about the project and we wish them a good start of the module!

SUSTAIN Meeting in Valencia

All SUSTAIN partners are having a gathering at the Agromuseum, part of the Politechnical University of Valencia

As part of the planned activities, all SUSTAIN partners are holding a meeting in the beautiful town of Valencia. They will have the chance to visit EL Saler School, one of the educational institutions that is taking part in our project. Part of the meeting programme includes a Lego® Serious Play® workshop and a session about communications, conducted by EUSEA.

Everyone is a scientist! Why not?

Learn more how even small scale projects and small groups cause an impact on students perceptions about science

“Everyone is a Scientist”, the research project of the master student Jorian Huisman from the University of Groningen, in collaboration with the SUSTAIN team, has proven its name on October 4th , when he presented the results of his (pilot) study: “Does scientific literacy improve when high school students participate in a citizen science project?”.

During the summer, together with project coordinator, Maaike de Heij, Jorian supervised a group of 8 pupils from a secondary school performing a citizen science experiment about biodiversity in landscapes with different management schemes. He studied the effect of citizen science on what pupils know and think about science by conducting questionnaires and interviews. Even though the group was small, an interesting result that Jorian shared was that after the experiment the participating pupils had a less stereotypical view of science. Also, pupils showed both negative and positive attitudes towards their personal contribution to science, now and in the future.

On October 8, the Groningen SUSTAIN team and Jorian will meet with students of the Master Science, Education and Communication for an informal chat about the SUSTAIN project. Topics will include how to engage secondary school pupils in discussions about landscape management and creating an interactive environment in which schools can actively participate with research projects in their region. This chat will provide us with a great opportunity to share ideas and get inspired!

In Valencia, teachers get trained using innovative methodology

Can you imagine having a playful and fruitful meeting? SUSTAIN team is using a very special way for doing this...

Having a work meeting but playing instead? And achieving your goals and more? This is what happened in the last SUSTAIN teachers´ training, at the El Saler school, in Valencia. Miguel Vidal and his team worked using the Lego Serious Play methodology. What's this? It´s a facilitated meeting, communication and problem-solving process, in which participants are led through a series of questions, probing deeper and deeper into a subject. Each participant builds his or her own 3D LEGO® model in response to the facilitator´s questions using specially selected LEGO® elements. The models serve as a basis for group discussion, knowledge sharing, problem solving and decision making. Soon we will share the outcomes of such an interesting meeting approach!

Hands-on experiments in Groningen: how does biodiversity differ?

Students inquired about biodiversity in three landscapes with different management schemes

On June 14 and 15, our coordinator Maaike de Heij and Jorian,  a master student, went to one of the Dutch schools within the SUSTAIN project for a pilot study with 8 pupils. They tested two experiments in the field: 1) the identification of plant species with a plant App and 2) counting number of species in soil samples. These experiments were tested at three different locations - all three grasslands, but with different management regimes (i.e. mowing etc). The pupils looked at the results and together discussed the outcomes.

In addition to the field experiment, they looked at the impact of the experiments on the pupils attitude towards science: a short questionnaire before and after, and asked the pupils to make a mindmap before and after the field experiment on "what do you think about, when we talk about science?". In addition, Jorian interviewed four pupils about their experience on participating within the experiment. 

The Groningen SUSTAIN team will have another pilot on the 11th and 12th of July, but his time with 100 pupils. Stay tuned for the news!

SUSTAIN at the EUSEA Annual Conference in Madrid!

Our coordinator Maaike de Heij presented the main goals and activities of our project

During a Horizon Talks session, Maaike de Heij spread the word about SUSTAIN project, sharing our goals and the challenges we are facing while bringing students attention and action will into creating more sustainable landscapes. Our coordinator not only attended this session but she also participated in a training session with Dr. Eric Jensen about evaluation of public engagement activities. SUSTAIN was often use as an example, stimulating the participants on thinking about aims and ways of measuring them. A great opportunity for getting more ideas and disseminating our work and its different phases.

“Green is not always the color”: SUSTAIN partners meet in Groningen for the Project Start Up session

How can be better link our students to their natural surroundings? How can we trigger on them and on each of us questions that will stimulate action towards water and birds conservation? These are some of the questions that the SUSTAIN team are aiming to answer.

The 12-partners consortium gathered on the 21-22 February in the northern city of Groningen to discuss and share their visions about the coming work development within the SUSTAIN Project. School teachers, University professors, researchers and project managers had fruitful sessions about the next steps for the modules creation and the citizen science activities with students and teachers.

The meeting was opened with an inspiring talk held by Prof. Theunis Piersma, where he stated that “green is not necessarily the color”, advocating for diversity instead of the green homogeneity of monocultures (agricultural or forest plantations), participants were provoked to look at landscapes in a deeper and questioning way.

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1st Press Release_School pupils work for sustainable landscapes

Science LinX to coordinate SUSTAIN, an Erasmus+ network

The new European SUSTAIN network has been awarded a EUR 449,900 grant by Erasmus+, the EU programme for education, training, youth and sport. The network will be coordinated by Science LinX, the science centre of the University of Groningen (UG) Faculty of Science and Engineering. SUSTAIN aims to engage pupils and their families in research projects – what is known as citizen science – on bird migration and water management. The 12 partners will develop e-learning modules on ‘sustainable landscapes’ and research in Spain, Cyprus and the Netherlands, linking learning inside and outside the classroom.


For SUSTAIN, the million-dollar question is how society can use landscapes for industry, housing, agriculture and recreation without hampering biodiversity. This is a major issue for future generations, and young people must therefore be included in the discussion.


The project members – researchers, school teachers, science education providers and experts in science communication – will form a community of learners (CoL) and will develop e-learning modules on a topic relevant to the region. These will be made available to other schools in the third and final year of the project. At the end of the project, each of the three countries will host a science festival to reach a wide audience. The Polibienestar Research Institute of the Universitat de Valencia (Spain) will develop protocols to evaluate the project and provide feedback to support peer-learning within the regional networks. Dissemination of the project’s activities will be facilitated by Eusea – the European Science Events Association.


Maaike de Heij, project leader at Science LinX, will coordinate SUSTAIN. She is proud that the Science LinX team will once again lead a European project, ‘SUSTAIN is very much in line with previous projects, like IRRESISTIBLE, which was successfully wrapped up last year.’ IRRESISTIBLE also delivered a number of valuable teaching modules on current science topics. De Heij continues, ‘this reflects how Science LinX works. We bring our Faculty to the forefront of teacher training and school work, so pupils learn to appreciate the value of science education’.

Researchers from the UG, Universitat Politècnica de Valencia (UPV) and the University of Nicosia (UNic) have state of the art expertise on sustainable landscapes. The UG’s Sustainable Landscapes Competence Centre, which is part of the Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences (GELIFES), aims to translate evolutionary ecology research into practical applications for sustainable landscape planning and nature conservation.


The project is indebted to Theunis Piersma, Professor of Global Flyway Ecology (UG) and Wadden Sea biologist at the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ). In 2014, Piersma won the Spinoza Prize, the most prestigious science award in the Netherlands. He also initiated the King of the Meadows programme, which focuses on agricultural landscapes and, with a combined approach of science, citizen science and art performances, aims to create space for farmers, citizens and a biodiverse landscape. The project will foster engagement and serve as an example of a citizen science initiative that others can follow.


The Dutch city of Leeuwarden will be European Capital of Culture in 2018. Regional nature and culture together with engaged citizenship (Iepen mienskip in the local Frisian language) will be the main themes of this event. As these themes are closely connected to SUSTAIN, the Leeuwarden-Fryslân 2018 Foundation is an associated partner of the SUSTAIN project and the Province of Friesland a full partner, thus providing a great opportunity to use regional support to bring together science, nature and culture.

More information:

For more information contact the coordinator Maaike de Heij:

Science LinX:

Full list of participants:

University of Groningen, Provincie Frysland, RSG De Borgen, Piter Jelles Leeuwarder Lyceum, Universitat de Valencia – Polibienestar, Universitat Politechnica de Valencia, CIPFP Misericordia, IES EL Saler, University of Nicosia, the Heritage Private School, Forum Private Greek School and Eusea.


About Science LinX:

The Science LinX science centre belongs to the Undergraduate School of Science and Engineering, and coordinates the outreach and engagement programme for pupils, teachers, civil society and the general public. By providing a stage for the scientific community, it sparks interest in science and engineering at the UG. With its fresh and tailor-made approach, it facilitates continuous learning across the borders of science, education, work and civil society.

SUSTAIN: a new fruitful collaboration for breeding sustainable landscapes through Citizen Science.

SUSTAIN is the new project gathering a diverse consortium that was just awarded a EUR 449,900 grant by Erasmus+, the EU programme for education, training, youth and sport. It will be coordinated by Science LinX, the science centre of the University of Groningen. SUSTAIN aims to engage pupils and their families in research projects – what is known as citizen science – on bird migration and water management. A consortium of 12 partners will develop e-learning modules on ‘sustainable landscapes’ and research in Spain, Cyprus and the Netherlands, linking learning inside and outside the classroom.

The modules developed by SUSTAIN will be a contribution for our ecological literacy and our involvement in interactive and innovative ways in the creation of more sustainable landscapes for Europe!

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