Looking back on Meet the Professor 2021
On March 24, 2021, over 2500 primary school students met professors from Utrecht University. Not in their own classroom, but through a video call!
The day started with a digital opening for all professors. During the opening, the professors who participated for the fifth time received a digital high five, our Stream the Professor stars were put in the spotlight and we did a small poll via Mentimeter: What do the professors actually find scarier: video calling with students or with children? And what requires more preparation? The results: A large majority thought video calling with children was a bit scarier, the preparation time was the same for most. Finally, the professors exchanged some final tips with each other in break-out rooms.
New world opens up
The school children prepared well for the digital visit. Each month they opened a golden envelope with a hint about the professor's identity and a class activity. Through the hints and activities, the group learned more and more about the professor and Utrecht University. On March 24 at 11:00 they finally found out who their professor was. The students of grade 6/7/8 of OBS Oog in Al found it unexpected that their professor Elaine Mak (Faculty of Law, Economics and Governance) was not a man in a white coat and still quite young. The reveal was surprising for students of the sixth grade of Damiaanschool Zeist as well. Their teacher said: "The children are introduced to something which is elusive for most. A professor is someone with tousled hair who experiments in a lab. But it turns out to be an ordinary person... A new world opens up. "
During the video call, the professor talked about his / her research and the students were allowed to ask questions. For the eighth grade students of OBS De Panda, it was a special experience: "The children thought it was fantastic. They really felt like they were part of a conversation." Students of the eighth grade of the Beatrix School learned a lot during the video call: how to become a professor, what the work of a professor entails, about diabetes in animals and the importance of conferences. For students grade 7/8 of Montessori Griffensteyn 30 minutes were actually too short. The teacher writes: "We thought it was a nice conversation; a lot of interesting information. A little on the short side. The children learned how nanomedicines work, how small they are and what function they have in the Corona vaccine. "
How did the professors experience Meet the Professor? Of course they would have preferred to go to primary schools by bicycle. Because getting to know the school children in their own classroom is the most exciting. However, one thing was the same this year: the students' curiosity and good questions. Prof. Paul Boselie (Faculty of Law, Economics and Governance) shares a number of questions he received: 'what do you do with research that fails?', 'which soccer club are you a fan of? and 'are you and your colleagues much bothered by the Corona measures?' Prof. Dr. Marc Bonten (UMC Utrecht) liked the question: "Do you also wear a white coat?"
Prof. Dr. Roos Masereeuw (Faculty of Science), had an original approach: "I sat down in the lab with my laptop so they had a bit of an idea of what the lab looks like. There were students walking around in lab coats, so it became very real to them. Prof. ir. Roel Vermeulen (Faculty of Veterinary Medicine) has also gained a lot from the conversation: "I was given a whole research agenda from the class: air pollution, plastic viruses and health! So let’s get to work!"
Nothing beats a real visit! So despite the positive reactions to the digital edition, we hope that the professors will be able to cycle to the schools again on 23 March 2022.