'I want to be a scientist, when I grow up'

| Michaela Nesvarova

A group of children from local primary schools visited the University of Twente to get acquainted with the academic environment and to hopefully get interested in science. Twente Academy Young organized a special program for the young visitors, which included a tour of the Nanolab and many fun experiments, such as putting candy in the vacuum machine.

On the 13th of April, the UT welcomed pupils from digital plus classes of the Stichting Proo in Nunspeet and from the Islamic primary school Al Ummah in Enschede. This outreach activity was initiated by professor Wilfred van der Wiel from the MESA+ institute of the UT, who invited Ghada Bassioni, a highly accomplished female scientist from Egypt, to appear at the event.

Breaking stereotypes

‘Dr. Bassioni debunks the stereotype many children might have about scientists, and therefore she makes an excellent role model’, says Anne van den Bos from Twente Academy Young. Bassioni presented a short lecture titled ‘The Curse of the Pharaohs’, during which she pointed out that even seemingly mysterious or magical things can be explained by scientific thinking.

Fun experiments

After the talk and Van der Wiel’s quick introduction into nanotechnology, the children got a tour through Nanolab. They could enjoy the demonstration of the electron microscope or paint wafers. There was even time for today’s single most popular activity – selfies, that the children could take wearing protective suits.

The visitors could also experience science first hand and participate in experiments that included piling up liquids with different densities or putting candy in the vacuum machine (seeing your favorite candy swell up is surely fun for all ages).

Inspiring children to pursue science

The entire event was designed to show the true face of science, and therefore allow children to make an informed decision when it comes to their future – and hopefully inspire them to consider a scientific career.

As such, the event was a nice example of the overall objective of Twente Academy Young and it also represented the common goal of Young Scientist Ambassador Program, which is a program within the Global Young Academy, an international scientific organization that both Van der Wiel and Bassioni are members of.

‘As participants of this Ambassador program, we try to get general public and especially young kids enthusiastic about science. We want to get them acquainted with scientific thinking; show them what science is all about and how fun it can be’, says Professor van der Wiel.

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