By Romy Harink,
Expect Everything Dutch correspondent
After a long trip by train form my hometown in The Netherlands, I finally arrived at NEMO Science Museum in Amsterdam. The first thing I saw was lots of students nicely dressed in suits or dresses, just according to the dress code. They all came for the same reason: to win the Golden Whale award of the short movie contest Tube Your Future 2016. This yearly contest is organised to engage secondary school students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
I hear you thinking: Why do they call the award a golden whale? Well, firstly whales are awesome and secondly humans use some techniques whales use, like sonar. But enough about whales and their awesomeness, there was more on the programme than winning that prize.
The whole afternoon was filled with workshops. First, speed dates, not with each other, but with professionals of the science industry. Students nicely dressed asking interesting questions to interesting professionals. All the professionals got one thing in common: they were passionate about their profession. Be it something with electronics or something with biology or chemistry: they love what they do.
After the workshops I went to the ‘auditorium’ to see some of the contenders’ movies. There definitely was a difference in quality, but you just saw how much effort they put into their work and that was beautiful to see. When you looked around in the public, you always saw exactly which movie was from which group in the public, because when the movie started you heard giggling (mostly girls) and as the film progressed the giggling became laughing.
You can’t have a science/film competition without a good science quiz. The quiz was called ‘mask on, mask off’. After each question the contenders could put their mask on when they agreed and off when they disagreed. Every round the quiz ended with an estimate question, an open one. How far is the Voyager 1 separated from earth? 180 km? Right… Almost… The moon is already 384.400 km away from our planet… But one guy had the almost exact right answer. How? ‘Well, I guessed…’ he said. Must be a pretty good guesser.
And the winner is…
The moment we all waited for: the award ceremony. You could almost feel the tension in the crowd. I could hear students whispering things like “the movie of the group standing next to us was also good, was ours better? The bronze whale was for to Bonhoeffercollege Castricum. Congrats! The front of the main stage was swarmed by cameramen, who all wanted the best shots. The second place and silver whale went to Het College Weert!
And then the awarding of the gold whale… The last chance for everyone to win gold. The winner of the Golden Whale Tube Your Future 2016 are… the students of IJsselcollege! A crew of six girls and their female teacher (imagine girls screaming). The winning movie is about Nancy Short, a Production Manager at RTL Sport a. What an achievement in a man’s world. I must confess I was quite proud.
After the whales there was one more prize to be given away, the one for the most recognizable group. We had already spotted them and we knew there was only one group that stood out of the crowd with their suits with a TV test tube print.
Of course there were some disappointed faces in the room, but hey, not everyone can win, maybe better next time. Among all those disappointed faces you could see the smiles on the faces of the girls who won first prize. The still couldn’t believe it (still imagine screaming girls).
The day ended gradually and some students left NEMO Science Museum proudly carrying a large whale. In short it was an awesome and exciting day and a big promotion of science and technology.