An Interview With...
Where did you grow up and what were your favorite activities as a child?
I grew up on a farm near Ansager in Juteland in Denmark. We had cows and pigs, and when I was 5 years old I liked to be with my parents, when they milked the cows with machines. My sister and I had rabbits, doves, cats and dogs. My favorite activities were to climb trees and watch the landscape, to play with kites, to play soccer and to skate on ice.
Are you related to Hans Christiaan Andersen? How common is the name "Andersen" in Denmark?
Andersen is the family name of 3,3 % of the Danes.
Other common names here are:
[Editor note: in Europe, decimal numbers are written with a comma instead of a period. 3,3% (in Europe) is the same as 3.3% (in the United States)]
What were your favorite subjects in school?
I liked biology, physics, history, mathematics and English. My favorite teacher arranged discussions of different questions, and I thought that was very interesting.
What were your least favorite, or most difficult subjects in school?
I thought that Latin was very difficult and not so interesting.
What did you want to grow up to be when you were young?
I wanted to be a scientist, an astronaut or a teacher.
What do you do now and what inspired you to follow that career path?
I teach astronomy in "Stjernekammeret" the school planetarium at Bellahøj Skole in Copenhagen. New pupils from Copenhagen and other places come every day. That is 4.000 pupils in a year. We watch how the stars rotate in the sky and I tell myths about the constellations. We watch pictures of planets, stars, clouds and galaxies. We learn about satellites and missions to the Moon and to the planets. The pupils come in groups and are from 7 years to 18 years old and even up to 80 years old!
I also teach physics to 13 to 16 years old pupils. We have just made a project about the magnets on Spirit and Opportunity. We make experiments with magnetic soil and that makes it easier to understand some of the experiments on Mars. We also build cars of Robolab Lego. We program the cars and control their way to drive. That is fun, and it we imagine that we are driving a car on Mars.
I am also on a team that makes interactive experiments on the computer. It is called Space Adventures and should be active at www.rummet.dk by July 2004.
What do you find most interesting about physics? What other sciences interest you?
I like to see pupils making experiments that make them wonder why. This way they get interested and express a lot of questions to be investigated. I am interested in all science that can make us wonder about something.
How much mathematics is required to understand physics?
Mathematics must be fun and useful to calculate the results of your experiments. There is no reason to make mathematics too difficult to a child. Often it is also a good idea to tell a theory in words or try to explain in different ways that will make more pupils understand.
What do you like best about your job?
I like to make experiments. I like to find interesting questions together with the pupils. I like to explain interesting theories. I like to show the sky in the planetarium "Stjernekammeret".
What do you like the least about your job?
If I feel, that I have to do too many things at the same time. I do not like if some pupils are not interested to learn or to listen.
If you could change career paths, what do you think you would like to do?
I would like to work more with science and educational projects because it is so important to make people wonder about nature.
How many languages do you speak or read? What is the benefit of knowing more than one language? What is the most difficult thing about learning a second language?
I speak, read and write in English, German, Swedish, Norwegian and Danish. I also understand some French. When you can read in English, you can communicate with a lot of people and find interesting things in the Internet. It is also an advantage to know more languages. The most irritating is when there are too many words that you do not understand.
What would your like readers of this interview to know about Denmark?
Denmark is a country with a lot of farming. It is green in the summer and grey and rainy in the winter with some snow at times. There is a long coastline and a lot of beaches. Most people lives in cities and work with service and industry.
Visit my planetarium Stjernekammeret at Bellahøj Skole in Brønshøj (four kilometers northwest of the center of Copenhagen, or visit the much larger Thycho Brahe Planetarium in Copenhagen Center.
In Copenhagen I would also recommend The Eksperimentarium, The Zoo, Rundetaarn, the parks, the beaches, the Harbour and a lot of things you can find at The Tourist Bureau.
What advice do you have for the children around the world who read this interview?
Family and friends are very important in life. In a job or a school it is fine to be in a good team or a good class. It is nice to have a culture, where everybody can express, what he or she feels or thinks. You must listen to one another. In that way you get friends and you learn very much.
Do you have a favorite quote?
"With a little help from my friends." The people you know are very clever in different areas. And they are all very happy to help you, when you need it.
- 1 February 2004
8 January 2015
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