VII European Conference: Raw MatTERS Ambassadors at Schools

Photo by Prva gimnazija Varaždin

On October 25, 2022, the National Research Council of Italy, Bologna, hosted the VII European
Conference Raw MatTERS Ambassadors at Schools. Students, aged 10 – 19, and their mentors from 19 European countries and 29 educational institutions presented various projects, experiments and workshops to raise awarenss of the importance of raw materials.

Photo by CRN, Bologna

RM@Schools is a long-lasting project that was first organized in 2016 by six partner countries: Italy, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Spain, and Hungary. Many other countries and universities joined later. The whole point of the project is to create a strategic plan for dissemination of techniques and methodologies in order to improve the image of science and technology in schools and at the same time explain the value of raw materials and promote new professional careers in this sector. VII European Conference RawMatTERS Ambassadors showcased the valuable achievements of the project: students and academics from numerous European countries (Italy, Austria, The Netherlands, Spain, Germany, Hungary, Portugal, Greece, Sweden, Estonia, Slovenia, Finland, Belgium, Latvia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Poland, Slovakia, Croatia) presented ingenious approaches to learning about raw materials.

The conference itself took place in the conference hall at the Area Territoriale di Ricerca di Bologna del Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche. After it was officially opened by Bernd Schafer, CEO of EIT RawMaterials, the conference was moderated by Armida Torregiani, a senior researcher at CNR and Veronika Sochorova, a Communications Director at Euromines. Firstly, there was a short overview of the RM@Schools organization itself. For the students to relax before their presentations, a Kahoot quiz about raw materials was held. The atmosphere was suddenly charged with a competitive spirit. At 9:50 am, students from various high schools and colleges began presenting videos they had made about a certain theme related to raw materials. The video clips differed in the way they approached the theme, but they were all very interesting and creative. Around 11:00 am an official photo with all participants, showing their national flags, was made. During lunch break students and their teachers had the opportunity to taste Italian cuisine – lasagna, focaccia, and delicious Italian cakes. After lunch, students and professors had the opportunity to participate in various workshops connected with raw materials. All the workshops were unique and at the same time fun and educational. Our team, 5 students and mentor, Krunoslav Rukelj, an ESS and Geography teacher from Prva gimnazija Varaždin, Croatia, showed how to make paint from crushed minerals with the help of eggs and oil. The workshop was devised by Marko Cvetković, Josipa Krapulić and Ana Brcković, professors and researchers from the Faculty of Mining, Geology, and Petroleum Engineering Zagreb and it is a good example how scientific institutions with expertise in raw materials and education can offer appealing activities for secondary schools.

In addition to the offical conference activities, the students got an opportunity to explore the city of Bologna and learn about Italian culture. There was also a lot of international dialogue among the students because the seminars encouraged everyone to mingle and learn about their distinct cultures. A great element was that each country contributed a portion of their national food, which both the students, teachers, and other staff were really pleased about. All of this contributed to increasing awareness of crucial and raw materials not only via educational and scientific means, but also through entertaining workshops and humorous names that will remain with everyone for great many years.

Such conferences can be very useful both for people who participate in them, but also for people who watch them and are interested in topics that are discussed. Those who participate in the conference can learn from first-hand experience about a certain topic which is way more useful and effective than learning from second-hand sources. All of us can implement some project ideas in our daily lifestyle, therefore making our daily life better. We can spread awareness about the importance of raw materials across all industries to make the future better.

Written by Josipa Kovačić, Andro Golub and Sebastjan Varga, Prva gimnazija Varaždin

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