Winners of the KNAW Education Prize announced

13 June 2018

On Tuesday, June 12, the KNAW announced which vwo papers will receive this year’s KNAW Education Prize. The winning papers were about the influence of Trump and Putin on the news, about the lagging school performance of boys, about an acoustic amplifier for an iPhone and about lighting for racing bikes. The festive award ceremony took place in the Rode Hoed in Amsterdam.

First prize profile Culture & Society: Making or Breaking the News?
By Sara Haverkamp, Scala College, Alphen aan de Rijn

Sara Haverkamp studied how presidents Putin and Trump deal with the media. She wondered if journalists in Russia and the United States can still do their job. Sara not only did literature research, but also talked to experts. For example, she interviewed a British Russia correspondent and spoke with an American political science professor who specializes in Russia. Sara stepped into the current events without getting carried away by them. According to the jury, Sara thereby demonstrates that she has an academic mindset.

First prize profile Economics & Society: The Boy Problem
By Lucia Otten, St. Ignatius Gymnasium, Amsterdam

Lucia Otten studied the phenomenon that since the 1990s boys are increasingly underrepresented at higher school levels. She identified causes, described possible solutions and interviewed experts. Lucia devised a special teaching program for boys and girls and tested it in two fourth-grade economics classes. Unfortunately the adapted teaching programmes did not lead to the solution. According to the jury Lucia wrote her essay with speed and a feeling for scientific practice. The research is well documented, scientifically set up and executed and very readable.

First prize in the Nature & Health profile: Acoustic amplifier for an iPhone
By Lot Hartevelt and Isis Verhaag, Lyceum Sancta Maria, Haarlem

Lot Hartevelt and Isis Verhaag wondered how they could build the best acoustic amplifier for their iPhone. It had to produce loud and pure sound. They studied different amplifiers and visited a manufacturer of an existing amplifier. Then they used a 3D printer to make their own amplifier including a top unit for an iPhone 6. Lot and Isis’ amplifier turns out to be better than existing amplifiers. Their horn amplifies the sound from 65 decibels to 80 decibels. The paper is didactically excellent written with a clear question. It is an original combination of literature research, experiments, interviews with companies and entrepreneurs and technology development.

First prize Nature & Technology profile: The development of an integrated flashing light system for racing bicycles
By Stijn Nowee and Wouter Witteman, Van Maerlantlyceum, Eindhoven

Stijn Nowee and Wouter Witteman wanted to make lights for a racing bike so that cyclists can participate more safely in traffic. Wouter himself is an avid road cyclist. He feels unsafe when turning, because he has to remove his hand from the handlebars. Stijn and Wouter first did market research. Then they made a design. Then they actually built and tested their design. Stijn and Wouter developed something that is better than what is available on the market. The lights are integrated into the handlebars. They also serve as brake lights and warning lights. With four taps on the handlebar you can check the battery. And the battery can be recharged via a USB cable.

The other winners:

Culture & Society

  • 2nd prize: The last image
    Mila Haak, The Goese Lyceum, Goes
  • 3rd prize: Romijn
    Lotte Peters, Zaanlands Lyceum, Zaandam?

Economy & Society

  • 2nd prize: Circular Cell. Societal barriers of the circular economy
    Ajuna Soerjadi and Joske Wein, Stedelijk Gymnasium Nijmegen, Nijmegen
  • 3rd prize: Politics starts at home at the table
    Noa Schaafsma, Marit Marinus and Claudia Dijkstra, Willem Lodewijk Gymnasium, Groningen

Nature & Health

  • 2nd prize: Alternative sports prosthesis
    Rens Hoogendorp and Lorens Niehof, Christiaan Huygens College, Eindhoven
  • 3rd prize: Exodus of the oystercatcher
    Hinke Lise Hoekstra and Pieter Zijlstra, CSG Bogerman, Sneek

Nature & Technique

  • 2nd prize: From scribbles to numbers
    Wouter van Dijk and Joris Veldhuizen, Strabrecht College, Geldrop
  • 3rd prize: General Longboard Sciences
    Jelle Feitsma and Sam Voncken, Porta Mosana College, Maastricht

A jury of top scientists judged 337 profile papers from 155 schools this year. The winning students receive a scholarship for their first year of college. The first prize is 2,000 euros, the second prize 1,500 euros, the third prize 1,000 euros. In addition, the teachers who supervised the prize winners receive an education-related prize package. The schools of the winning students will receive an official plaque.

See also the message of May 29 about the announcement of the nominated vwo papers.

Anniversary year
This is the tenth year that the KNAW Education Prize is being awarded. With this prize, the KNAW wants to emphasise that inspiring education lays the foundation for the development of science. The prize is made possible by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. The nominated profile assignments and the films made by the winners can be viewed at



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