8-grade pupils design the transportation systems of the future

More than 500 14- to 16-year-old pupils in the Gothenburg region are participating in a competition where they outline future transportation systems, which are to be as sustainable as possible. The final will be held on “Framtidsdagen” (Future Day) in January 2013, when the solutions will be presented to a jury. The winning class will receive SEK 10,000 and an overnight stay among the sharks at Universeum.

It’s the Universeum Science Centre that runs the “Transports of the Future” project in cooperation with Chalmers, among others. The purpose of the project is to encourage pupils from years seven and eight in the Gothenburg region to compete for who is sharpest in building a system for how to transport ourselves and goods in a sustainable way in the future.

Per Olof Arnäs from the Department of Technology Management and Economics at Chalmers is chairman of the jury that will select the winners. He tells us that this initiative is not only about getting young people interested in science and technology, but also to show what exciting careers the transport industry can offer.

- Chalmers participates in the project to be able to spread knowledge and experience as well as to get a chance to meet young people as early as possible and explain what a university education involves and what it can lead to. One very important issue is to promote a scientific approach to the surrounding world. And, who knows, the pupils might find really good solutions, Per Olof says.

A night among the sharks

The project is run according to a model called “Unga spekulerar” (“Young Minds”) that Universeum has used for similar projects before. The idea of the model is to give school classes a long-term task that they will develop, research, construct, document and present a solution for. Consequently, all focus is now on the transports of the future.

- In this project each of the classes will build a model, with at least one moving part, which illustrates a concept or solution. It must also be documented, communicated and studied, Per Olof tells.

Invitations have been sent to classes all over the Gothenburg region. In total, more than 500 pupils participate in the project that concludes with the Future Day in January. The solutions will then be presented to the jury at a big exhibition and seminar day.

- On 25 January all the classes will meet at Universeum and participate in a big exhibition. At the same time seminars and debates well be held on the topic of sustainable transportation. The winning school class will receive SEK 10,000 and an overnight stay under the shark tank at Universeum, Per Olof says smilingly.

The Future Day gathers many actors

The project involves not only teachers and pupils from senior-level schools but also decision makers within industry and trade, academia and politics. In addition to Universeum, being the project leader and initiator, Chalmers, AB Volvo, DB Schenker, Port of Gothenburg, Preem, SJ, Swedish Road Administration and Västtrafik participate.
 
- The competition has been designed in collaboration with all the participating organisations and the Future Day will gather many actors that will take part in the discussions. The companies involved in the project also offer the opportunity of study visits and information material for the school classes, Per Olof tells.

School visits

Per Olof has visited four of the senior-level schools to talk about logistics and transportation from a more general point of view.
 
- I have briefly described what it’s all about and how you can look upon different types of transportation systems. I have also challenged the pupils with questions that force them to think from a general perspective and consider the consequences. Such a question could, for example, be whether we should buy tomatoes from heated greenhouses in Sweden or from outdoor plantations in Spain.
 
Besides Per Olof, three of his colleagues from Chalmers will participate in debates and round-table talks at the Future Day. They hope to reach out to the young students and to create an interest in transports and logistics. They look especially forward to studying the students’ different solutions.
 
 
Read more about “Transports of the Future” (in Swedish)

Read more about Universeum 
 

Text: Caroline Örmgård
Photo: Jan-Olof Yxell, Per Olof Arnäs and Universeum
Translation: Eva Burford

Published: Tue 18 Dec 2012. Modified: Fri 15 Nov 2013