25 June 2020

New course will teach secondary school students about archaeology and proteins


Researchers from the University of Copenhagen have developed an interdisciplinary course for secondary school students, which brings them very close to the research. The students will analyse archaeological discoveries and gain insight into the work of a researcher. The project is supported by the Novo Nordisk Foundation.

Reconstruction of Thomas B. Thriges Gade in Odense.
Reconstruction of Thomas B. Thriges Gade in Odense.

Next year, the country's secondary school students will have an opportunity to dive into archaeological discoveries and try their hand at the latest technology in protein chemistry in a new interdisciplinary course. The project is called Next Generation Lab and is supported by the Novo Nordisk Foundation with close to DKK 6 million.

Luise Ørsted Brandt, Assistant Professor at the Globe Institute, the University of Copenhagen, is heading the project in close collaboration with Natural History Museum of Denmark. The course will give the secondary school students insight into what it means to work as a researcher in the field of natural sciences.

“They will work with one of the newest methods that we researchers use in the laboratory: A method to determine species based on small differences in the protein collagen. And they will work with real archaeological material,” says Luise Ørsted Brandt.

“We hope we can pass on some of our passion for this professional field and provide insight into the reasons why it is relevant to work with archaeology. We would also like to give some concrete examples of how a career in the field of natural sciences could shape up,” she says.

Bone Fragments and Leather Shoes

The students will pay a one-day visit to the Natural History Museum of Denmark. Here, they will work with material found at major archaeological excavation sites in Denmark. Among others, those discovered in connection with the construction of the new metro in Copenhagen and the renovation of Thomas B. Thriges Gade in Odense.

They will work with organic material such as bone fragments and leather from, for example, shoes, belts, sword sheaths and gloves. The results will be used by researchers in their further work.

“The students will help to create new results and knowledge about these places that many people probably already know. For example, central parts of Copenhagen and Odense. We will use the results they produce in our study of medieval Denmark. That is, they will become co-creators of research results and new knowledge about our past history,” says Luise Ørsted Brandt.

The project is carried out in collaboration with the Natural History Museum of Denmark with participation of the Museum of Copenhagen, the Museums of Southwest Jutland and the Odense City Museums. It runs over three years and begins on 1 January next year.

In total, the Novo Nordisk Foundation has supported 11 different projects with DKK 40 million. Common to the projects is that they focus on school and business collaborations which will inspire children and young people to choose a path within natural sciences and technology.


Assistant Professor Luise Ørsted Brandt, +45 28184020, luise.brandt@sund.ku.dk

Press Officer Cecilie Krabbe, +45 93565911, cecilie.krabbe@sund.ku.dk