What is Viruskenner?
Viruses all around the world
There are many viruses known. Depending on the nature of the virus and the way it is transmitted, it will be solely or predominantly present in one or more specific countries.
Sadly, millions of people get sick every year due to a viral infection and many die due to severe viral infections. It is important for people to be aware and know that the transmission of viruses can be largely reduced. That is exactly what project Viruskenner aims for: to help create more awareness about viral diseases and the way we can fight the transmission of these viruses. Many viruses cannot be cured yet, but everyday scientists and doctors are investigating viruses in order to create new vaccines and antiviral drugs. But we know that prevention is and remains the best strategy, using knowledge as an antivirus!
Zoom in: Viruses
Influenza, Hepatitis and AIDS are known examples of prevalent infectious diseases in the Netherlands. Dengue, hantavirus and West-Nile are examples of viruses that infect people in Africa, Asia and South-America. The impact of a virus is almost unbelievable, given its incredibly small size.
But what is a virus exactly? The word ‘virus’ was introduced in 1899 by a Dutchman, the microbiologist Martinus Beijerinck, from Amsterdam. But it was not until 1933, when the first electron microscope was used, that we could make viruses visible.
Viruses are very small in size: their diameter differs from 20 to 400 nanometer (1 nanometer is a millimeter divided by a million). For example: the diameter of an influenza virus is 80 to 100 nanometer. A virus is not just very small, but it also depends on other micro-organisms to replicate. So officially a virus is not a living organism. But if it gets into the right host cell, the virus will become active. It takes over the metabolism of that cell to produce new virus particles. That can finally lead to destruction of the host cell. When that happens, the person gets ill and we speak about infection.
Participate in the project Viruskenner
When you participate in the project, you reach two goals at once. First of all you get plenty of time and tools to indulge in the wonderful world of the viruses. You will find out how a virus behaves when it infects a human or animal. You will do research too, to find out what we can do to eradicate specific viruses. After this research you and your group will think about a way to pass on your new knowledge to others. With this idea your group will design a product to prevent virus infections and you will present this. This can be a presentation, education campaign, a flyer, but also a game or movie or a special mosquito net. The final presentation of your product will be placed on this website and/or the Viruskenner facebook page.
If you participate in the project Viruskenner, you will focus on one of the virus subjects that the Virus Fighters (coaches) or your teachers assign to you.
During the project you work in teams. One team can exist of about 4 persons. Your teacher will guide you through the project and your coach, a researched/doctor from the Erasmus Medical Center, can help you with all the questions you have.
The coaches of each school together with your teacher(s), will decide which group of your school will present their idea on the final day. During the final day a professional jury, who is specialised in different areas, will choose the winners. There is a prize for the most innovative idea, the best solution and a prize for the most scientific presentation. So make sure that the information in your presentation is all scientifically correct and that you present it catchy. But there is a fourth prize as well. This one is for the winner of the Viruskenner Quiz, in which all pupils can participate individually.
Meet the coaches
Do you want to know who the coaches are this year? You can find them using the link below. You will meet your coach when he/she visits your school or through a video message that he/she will send your school. During the final day your coach is there to support you and to cheer you on. During the project, you can always send them an e-mail.
Get started: Resources
We made a special page for you, where you can find useful information about the virus subjects that are being investigated by your teams. On this page you will also find the pre-test (which you need to fill in before the official start of the project) and the post-test (which we need you to fill in after the Final Day). Furthermore, you can discuss relevant questions, statements and problems with coaches and other students by using the Forum.
So we advice you to visit the Get Started page regularly, because it will give you much needed information.