On the 25 October 2022, a combined training workshop and stakeholder meeting of the Erasmus Maris initiative was held at European Commission Joint Research Centre of the European Commission in Geel (JRC-Geel). The workshop encompassed microplastics analysis in surface water samples using a simplified method suitable for secondary school settings.
John Seghers (JRC) Silvia Garcia Ruiz (JRC) and and Emmy Pequeur (Blue growth research lab of the University of Ghent) planned, led and coordinated the workshop.
The participants analysed a reference material for microplastics with the simplified method. The material contained about 90 particles of Polyethylene and Polypropylene larger than 300 µm but smaller than 1 mm. This size range is typical of microplastics from surface sampling using Manta nets. The results were more than promising and confirmed the viability and accuracy of the developed method. In parallel with a new RM development, Thomas More Hogeschool in Geel with the support of Dr Piotr Robouch (JRC) are validating the common method to be used at the Erasmus Maris initiative EU-wide.
European Commission (JRC Geel)
Dr. Guy Van den Eede (Director)
Dr Robert Koeber (head of Unit)
Mr Nikolay Denin (assistant of the director)
Dr Hakan Emteborg (Head of sector).
Office of the Secretary-General of the European Schools
Mr. Manuel Bordoy (Deputy Secretary General of the European School).
European School of Mol
Ms Maria Jose Perez Blanco (Director)
Ms Tinne Van Opstal (Deputy Director)
Citizen Science Vlaanderen (SCivil)
Mr Jef van Laer (Advisor) were part of the discussion with the chairman of ASE, Dr Kamel
Ayam Sailing Europe (ASE)
Dr Kamel Labibes (Chairman)
There are currently numerous analytical methods to assess microplastic pollution, making it difficult to compare the results between published studies. A general lack of reference materials has been hampering the necessary validation of these methods. Numerous types of microplastics RMs are still required to improve this situation.
The European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) developed a microplastic reference material to tackle this issue. In addition, they organised an inter-laboratory comparison study in collaboration with the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM) to evaluate the measurement results produced by more than 100 expert laboratories from different countries around the world. The relatively high scatter of the results confirmed the need to validate and harmonise the analytical methods used to assess microplastics.
To bring educators on the same page as scientists and safeguard the validity and accuracy of the data and results in citizen science campaigns co-created with secondary schools, the JRC is preparing dedicated microplastic reference materials within the Erasmus Maris initiative.
In the afternoon, the students visited a Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP). Dr Cédric Tarayre explained the students about the various processes like pasteurisation, anaerobic digestion, blending and dewatering of waste sludges.
The researchers from UMons and ASE demonstrated a sampling of microplastics in the river downstream the WWTP. This sampling was performed in the frame of a global project of the University of Birmingham called '100 plastic rivers'.
The students could then use the same protocol to sample microplastics directly at the effluent of the WWTP.
Our partner, secondary school Athénée Royal Louis Delattre started the building of the manta net. First phase: A scale model.
Visit to the National Institute of Water
The National Institute of Water is a public institution, specialized in water resources management and also in maritime and ecological engineering. The objective of our visit was to learn about the manta net.
Many thanks to Dr. Špela Koren and Mr. Uroš Robič who welcomed us, gave us the possibility to take photos of the manta net (used in the Defishgear project) and kindly answered to all our questions.
Second day in Ljubljana.
We planned to visit the secondary school of Gimnazija Vič. We met Alenka Mozer who is responsible for the Pedagogical Sailboat project within the school.
Alenka is a very dynamic an unusual professor accustomed to travelling with her students to international competitions. Her students received in 2018 several medals at the Genius International High School Project Olympiad for their research projects in the field of natural science and entrepreneurship.
Two of her students presented to us their project. They created a special bird nesting room, in which she installed sensors — a non-invasive method for monitoring rare and endangered species.
Alenka and her students will work on the scientific pedagogy. No doubts that they will provide outstanding outputs related to the thematic of the pollution of microplastics.
ASE is in Ljubljana. The sun is shining there!
Today we visited the National Institute of Chemistry. We were invited to a Visit to the labs. Dr. Andrej Krzan explained the functioning of an FT-IR spectrometer and the issues related to the identification of microplastics in a laboratory. During the afternoon, we went through the workplan of the "Pedagogical Sailboat project" and discussed future developments. Very engaging!
Tommorow an other meeting is planned at Gimnazija Vič to discuss further our project.
Joining forces to link the pedagogical veil to school programs in French-speaking Belgium .
Ayam Sailing Europe organised a participative brainstorming session with the professors of the Athénée Louis Delattre to link the different skills that can be developed in a sailing boat to the educational programs of Wallonia Brussels.
One of the teachers said, "Finally concrete stuff in pedagogy!"
The session allowed us to lay the foundations of the referential skills of pedagogical sailing.
A big thank you to the professors of the Athénée Royal Fontaine l'Evêque for their enthusiasm, their precious advice and their active participation.
We do not forget the director and professors of the Athénée Royal de Gilly who participated in this session and members of Ayam Sailing, especially Piotr, who led the brainstorming session
The project website is ready!
All the info and project resources du projet will be available online.
Ayam Sailing Europe Aisbl