All along the Tronton tower May 14, 2019
Today UHasselt and the Regional Landscape Kempen and Maasland launched the Tronton. This magnificent viewpoint is the closing piece of their science communication SALK-project, which revolved around the Ecotron and the Field Research Centre.
TAKING COLLABORATION TO THE NEXT LEVEL
“Great towers take time to construct” – Herman Melville.
The Ecotron, a time travelling machine enabled by science and a magnificent piece of architecture located in the heathland landscape of Limburg. A beautiful testimony of the successful collaboration between the Regional Landscape Kempen and Maasland and Hasselt University. Yet, it didn’t stop with science.
“Our goal was to not only do cutting-edge research but also communicate about it to society”, dr. Hanne Vercampt explains. “In order to achieve this, we started a science communication project with the financial support of EWI (the department for energy, science, and innovation) within the context of the Strategic Action Plan of Limburg (SALK). By doing this, we can showcase what our scientists are up to, meet the demand for more climate education and create support for science in general.”
FROM GUIDED RANGER TOURS TO SCAVENGER HUNTS
“One of the first things we did was starting up guided tours for groups together with the park rangers. They would walk through the park and visit the facility, while simultaneously receiving information on the latest scientific findings as well as how the Ecotron operates. They could even enter the building to experience an interactive installation. In order to provide tours of the highest quality, we constantly train the rangers so they remain up-to-date with the ongoing research in Ecotron and the Field Research Centre.”
“Subsequently, we expanded the program with an educative program for schools called ‘The Ecotron Mystery’, where students between the age of 12 and 18 go on a scavenger hunt together with a ranger for 2,5h. During it, they find out what the facility is all about and learn about things like the carbon cycle, ecosystems, biodiversity, and our climate. We even made an outdoor classroom for this program. Both projects are really successful. There have already been over 8000 events so far and another 1500 are on the way. On top of that, our visitors come from all over the world, as people from more than 25 countries (Brazil, Uganda, South-Africa, …) have visited the Ecotron so far.
SCIENCE IS FOR EVERYONE
“However, the park also has over 40 000 visitors a year who we wanted to cater to”, Hanne tells us. “That is why we build a beautiful new viewpoint called the Tronton, which we officially opened today. When standing on top of it, the visitors get a great overview of the Ecotron facility. On the inside, they can watch a video which gives them more explanation about all the research that is taking place there. This was the final piece of the science communication project. But of course, we will keep going after this and continue our successful collaboration.”