Soil decontamination in "Science in the Classroom”

Monday, November 28, 2016

On November 11th, the second presentation of the new edition of "Science in the Classroom" was held at the Spanish Institute Vicente Cañada Blanch in London. Araceli Pérez Sanz, researcher at the London Natural History Museum visited 14-18 years-old students to tell them about her life experience and her career as a researcher, as well as to solve any doubts that the students have at these crucial moments where they are about to start university. 

Science as a vocation; the experience as connection

Araceli used his baggage in soil science to attract the attention of students during his talk, focusing his speech on soil pollution and decontamination processes. Araceli explained the harmful effects of the action of pollutants for fauna, flora, economic disinvestment or even human health, and the existing ways to reverse this process, with special attention to the use of plants and microorganisms for the decontamination.

In spite of the difficulty that assumed the subject, the level of knowledge of the students and the connection with Araceli was excellent. Araceli valued this fact and said she was "grateful for their keen interest not only in my career development, but also in the subject of my research. I found a very educated audience, very prepared and with an important critical thinking ".

Each session concluded with an ecological idea: the imperative need to know and make visible the phenomenon of land degradation, because the damage that is caused in the ecosystem is not valued enough and, in most cases, is irreparable. 

Promoting future vocations

Among the theoretical explanations of Araceli, the students asked about the reasons that had led Araceli to investigate or about their own varied vocations and professional expectations. The researcher took advantage of these questions to nurture the vocation of students case by case.

The organizer of “Science in the Classroom" and FECYT scientific coordinator at the Spanish Embassy in London, Lorenzo Melchor, participated in all sessions and commented that "it is very gratifying to see how the students are contrasting their vocations and how the speakers , like Araceli, provides them with such an illustrative guide ".

The Head of Studies of the Spanish Institute Vicente Cañada Blanch, Fernando de la Cruz Perez, participated in one of the sessions and confirmed that "the direct contact of the students with experienced scientists like Araceli is being fundamental so that they receive an orientation and to awaken vocations." 

Asked about her experience in “Science in the Classroom”, Araceli highlighted the difficulty of "connecting and arousing the interest of an audience as demanding as high school students, which has also made me appreciate and praise the great work of teachers". Araceli also said that “’Science in the Classroom’ is an excellent initiative to approach and perhaps influence those who will lead our future." 

About “Science in the Classroom”

“Science in the Classroom” is a programme organised by the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT) and the Office for Cultural and Scientific Affairs of the Embassy of Spain in London, by which a scientist or an engineer per month visits 14-18 years-old students in the Spanish School Vicente Cañada Blanch in London until the end of the term. This programme began in the year 2015-2016 and continues with its second edition during 2016-2017. It is also supported by the Spanish Education Office in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, the Spanish School Vicente Cañada Blanch, and the Society of Spanish Researchers in the United Kingdom (SRUK/CERU). “Science in the Classroom” is embedded in the FECYT line of action related to the promotion of scientific culture and dissemination, and support for internationalization of Spanish science. 

About Araceli Pérez Sanz

Araceli has a Degree in Analytics Chemistry by the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid in 1993 and a PhD in Sciences by the same university in 1998, with a PhD thesis focused on the effectiveness of treatment plant sludge coagulated with ferric sulfate for treatment of iron chlorosis in different Spanish cultures and geographical areas. After a postdoctoral stay in the IMIDRA in Madrid, she worked for five years in the University of Hasselt, in Belgium. Then she went back to Madrid, where she joined IMIDRA again for a period of 10 years. In 2015, she moved to the the Earth Sciences Department, in the Natural History Museum as a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Research Fellow, in order to carry out the “Biostrategies” project. The purpose of this project is to evaluate the solubilisation processes made by microorganisms to obtain nutrients in extreme conditions.


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