Outreach Scienteens Lab

Physics and Sustainability

The Scienteens Lab offers six different workshops for secondary school classes combining physics and environmental sciences. They focus on topics such as solar cells, spectroscopy, renewable energies, CO2 emissions and climate change.

Most of these workshops are designed for students aged 13 to 19. They take place on Campus Limpertsberg, under the supervision of the Scienteens Lab’s team.

Each workshop is described in the table below. You can also get a glimpse of our physics workshops through a short video.

How does a solar cell work? How can we measure its efficiency and power with a sun simulator? During this workshop, students get the opportunity to discover the answers to these exciting questions. They get a better understanding of the current research on solar cells and find out why different solar cell technologies exist.

During the workshop, the students learn through hands-on experiments how to:

  • Produce a dye-sensitized solar cell
  • Test the short-circuit current and the open circuit voltage of a solar cell
  • Measure the conversion efficiency of different solar cells with a sun simulator
  • Calibrate the light intensity and investigate the influence of the temperature with scientific equipment. (Full-day only)
  • Use different lasers to learn about the reciprocity relation of an LED and a solar cell and
    predict the emission colour of an LED only from its absorption properties (Full-day only)

At the end of the day, the results of all the groups are discussed, and the participants discover which group created the best DIY solar cell.

The workshop is available in two formats, either as a full day or as half a day.
Full-day workshop for classes ranging from 2rd to 1st grade (students aged 16 to 19).
Half-day workshop for 3rd grade (students aged 15).


Prior knowledge on the following topics can be useful for the participants: Current, voltage, power in circuits. Plus efficiency and electrons orbitals for the full-day workshop.

What is light? Why do we need sunscreen? How efficient is it for blocking damaging radiation? In this workshop, students learn more about light and wavelengths through a day-to-day application. They use modern spectroscopy equipment to explore how electromagnetic radiations work. Then, following a simple recipe, they make their own sunscreen using natural ingredients and test its efficiency in blocking damaging UV radiation.

Participants carry out three main tasks:

  • Discovering the principles of wave interference and experimentally measuring light maxima and minima
  • Construction of their own DIY spectrometer to observe absortion and emission spectra of different gas lamps
  • Testing their natural sunscreen by measuring the absortion and transmission spectra for different wavelengths

This full-day workshop is suitable for classes ranging from 3rd to 1st grade, meaning students aged 15 to 19.

Prior knowledge on the following topics can be useful for the participants: Basic understanding of wavelengths.

How much energy do we use? Does our lifestyle affect the amount of energy we need? Could renewable technologies provide for all energy needs in Luxembourg? During this workshop, students get to search for answers using a self-assessment process and carrying out hands-on experiments. At the end of the day, they will be able to answer these questions through their own investigations.

Participants carry out the following tasks:

  • Assessing the potential of solar, wind, biomass or human powered technologies
  • Calculating their daily energy need and learning to solve the energy balance problem using the data they generated
  • Comparing their own energy consumption to that of other people and discussing whether Luxembourg could go 100% renewable
  • Learning the difference between power and energy
  • Discovering the advantages and disadvantages of different types of renewable energies and learning that they require land surface areas.

This half-day workshop is suitable for classes ranging from 5th to 1st grade, meaning students aged 13 to 19.
It can be combined with two other workshops focusing on energy and sustainability (see workshops 4 and 5 below).

This workshop was developed by a team of researchers from the Department of Physics and Materials Science of the University of Luxembourg in the framework of the Energy4Life project. You can find more information about this project on the dedicated e4l website.

In this workshop, students get to learn about CO2 in the context of global warming. They discover different ways to measure its concentration and how to detect it, and explore its role in natural processes such as the greenhouse effect.

By following the steps of an online presentation and working in small groups, the students can experiment independently in order to answer a series of scientific questions. They conduct a series of experiments on e.g the albedo effect, thermal radiation and CO2. These activities allow the participants to discover different areas of physics, environmental science, engineering and biology.

This half-day workshop is suitable for classes ranging from 4th to 1st grade, meaning students aged 14 to 19.
It can be combined with two other workshops focusing on energy and sustainability (see workshop 3 above and 5 below).

In this workshop, students learn more about power management, efficiency and energy storage. They carry out a series of experiments to discover basic concepts in physics such as force, work, energy and power:

  • Pumping and storing water to power a small turbine and generate electrical power
  • Estimating the maximum energy transfer achieved with the system and discussing the first law of Thermodynamics
  • Configuring small electric cars to maximise distance and speed.
  • Racing the cars using either only small solar panels or adding a supercapacitor to store additional energy
  • Playing a board game with one objective: managing energy sources and storage to meet the demands through different seasons

The final discussion includes reflection about the challenges linked to energy storage and power management in the face of the current climate crisis.

This half-day workshop is suitable for classes ranging from 5th to 1st grade, meaning students aged 13 to 19.
It can be combined with two other workshops focusing on energy and sustainability (see workshops 3 and 4 above).

During this workshop, students get the opportunity to analyse the behaviour of a specific material in all its forms and learn to establish a relation between its structure and its flow behaviour.

Different experimental tools are applied to analyse the mayonnaise:

  • Microscopy to investigate the structure
  • Rheometer and Hagen-Poiseuille equation to study the flow properties

At the end of the day, each group presents its results and conclusions.

This full-day workshop is suitable for classes ranging from 3rd to 1st grade, meaning students aged 15 to 19.

Practical information for all the workshops

Depending on the needs of the high-school students, the workshops in physics are either taught in English, French, German or Luxembourgish.

The full-day workshops (1, 2 and 6) take place from 9:00h till 15:30h with a lunch break of one hour. During the lunch break the students can use the canteen. The lunch schedule need to be observed, so that the afternoon activities can resume on time. Please note, that the participants might want to bring a small snack for the morning, as the lunch break can be a bit late.

The half-day workshops (short version of workshop 1, as well as workshops 3, 4 and 5) last 3h30.

At the end of a workshop, each student receives a certificate attesting to his participation.

The physics and sustainability workshops take place at the Physics and Materials Science Research Unit of the University of Luxembourg on Campus Limpertsberg.
Information on how to access Campus Limpertsberg is available here and the map below shows the Science Building.

By Bus, from the central train station / Luxembourg-city:
Take line 2 (Limpertsberg / L.T. Michel Lucius – Gasperich – Kohlenberg / Boy Konen) or line 4 (Limpertsberg / LT Michel Lucius – Leudelange, Gemeng), stop at “Lycée Technique Michel Lucius”, and walk down rue Guillaume Capus.