Researchers António Salgado and Sofia Serra helped a group of secondary school students from Colégio Ribadouro participate in the 10th edition of CanSat Portugal, who are interested in sending stem cells on a mini satellite and trying to understand the effects caused by a 2-minute flight to 1km altitude, on the viability of these cells.
CanSat Portugal is an educational project by ESERO Portugal, organized by Ciência Viva and the European Space Agency ( ESA ), aimed at secondary school students. A CanSat is a microsatellite that is the size of a soda can. The name comes from the English word for tin, “CAN”, and the abbreviation “SAT”, for satellite. In this competition, students must integrate all the base systems of a satellite in this reduced volume, namely its antenna (transmitter), battery and sensors.
This initiative challenges school students across the country to design and build a functional model of a microsatellite with the same dimensions as a soda can. Students are also responsible for building their own parachute and for satellite communications with their ground station.
The request from the students of Colégio Ribadouro arrived a few months ago and was accepted “immediately” by the ICVS and the School of Medicine. António Salgado, Vice-President of the School of Medicine for Research and ICVS researcher, mentioned that “the great involvement in the study of stem cells by the ReNEU team, which I coordinate, will be very beneficial for sharing knowledge with students ”.
He also stressed that “above all, as a researcher, it is extremely important to collaborate and interact with members of civil society. Supporting initiatives of this kind that promote the interaction of scientific knowledge produced at an academic level, with students who have an above average scientific curiosity, is extremely important. It allows, on the one hand, to demonstrate to them the applicability of research carried out at the academic level, and on the other hand, to deepen their interest in science, with a particular focus on what is carried out at the ICVS and the School of Medicine.
Gonçalo Alves, one of the students who are part of this project, showed that this cooperation “was fundamental and even crucial” for the whole process. He adds that “what sets our project apart from all other teams are the stem cells, and without the help of the ICVS we could not progress or make any kind of advance because we do not have the knowledge or access to these samples”.
Vicente Aroso, also a member of this team, highlighted that this project and mutual help is “an excellent opportunity to acquire knowledge, talk to many people who have the knowledge and who are important in the field of science”.