Looking back on Meet the Professor 2019

On 27 March, for the fourth year in a row, more than 140 professors from across all faculties cycled to primary schools in Utrecht to talk about their research and the university.

Pupils in years 6, 7 and 8 were allowed to spend an hour firing off a barrage of questions at ‘their’ professor, which turned out to be more fun than some people had previously thought: ‘I thought it would be boring, but suddenly it was already time for the professor to go. It was really fun and I learned a lot about criminal law’, said a pupil of the Da Costaschool in Hoograven.

Meet the Professor 2019

Roles reversed

Prior to the visit, there was an opening session in the University Hall for the participating professors. Years 7/8 of the primary school De JazzSingel were there as guests of honour. For a brief moment the roles were reversed; the pupils were allowed to find out how much the professors (still) knew about primary education by means of a quiz. For example, how many minutes are spent doing maths every week? (as many as 300!) And are pupils allowed to take their mobile phones outside during the break? (‘sadly’ not...).

Ordinary men and women

After the opening, the professors – some of them wearing their gowns – got on their bikes to visit over 3,300 pupils in all corners of Utrecht. Once they arrived, most were welcomed by enthusiastic children and teachers with tons of questions. The pupils of Daltonschool Rijnsweerd discovered that professors aren't all that different from children at all, according to their teacher: ‘It’s fantastic for pupils to see that even professors need to persevere, be patient, work long hours and overcome setbacks in order to finally take small steps towards discovering something!’

Meet the Professor 2019

For some of the pupils, it came as quite a surprise to find that professors are just ordinary people. The teacher from Patioschool De Kleine Prins: ‘It's very good for children to take a look into the world of science and broaden their horizons. The meeting with a professor (who turns out to be a very ordinary man or woman) is both enjoyable and educational.’ Prof. Marianna Tryfonidou looks back at the event: ‘The pupils were surprised that I wasn't bald or had grey hair and were all too eager to ask questions. It was a great day to demonstrate that professors are just ordinary people. Because there were so many questions, we applied the ‘Harry Potter sorting hat principle’: my beret went around the classroom and any child who ended up wearing it was allowed to ask a question.’

Fifth anniversary

In short, it was a fantastic day and we are looking forward to next year! This will be a special edition: on Wednesday 25 March 2020, Meet the Professor will be celebrating its fifth anniversary.

Meet the Professor 2019
Prof. Carla van Gils visits Daltonschool Rijnsweerd