Pee in a jar and grow a heart from it. With this statement, Leferink did not claim to fix any broken hearts or teach how to pee in a jar through her mini-lecture, but how epithelial cells derived from urine can be used to create beating heart muscles or ‘cardiomyocytes’. ‘The ultimate goal is to be able to replace heart transplants, but for that, we’d have to wait a few more decades. At present, this kind of tissue engineering is being used to fix or ‘patch’ parts of hearts that don’t function well.’
Evolution of vector notations
Following Leferink, mathematics teacher Tracy Craig took the floor to explain the history of the evolution of vector notations. Nominated by three different studies - Electrical Engineering, Applied Mathematics, and Advanced Technology – Craig attributes her nomination to her love for mathematics, relaxed good humor, and the relationships she has built with her students. In her lecture, she illustrated, through timelines, the vector notations that were used throughout the years to indicate common vector calculations such as cross and dot product.
The fluency illusion
Next up was Maaike Endedijk, a teacher of Educational Science and Technology. Through her 15-minute lecture, she explained the best practices that students can use to study smarter in the least amount of time. Higher grades are not an outcome of innate talent but of constant practice over time, according to Endedijk. Cramming just weeks before an exam may give an illusion that a lot of information is being processed clearly. Endedijk explained this is known as the fluency illusion, where we merely just recognize information instead of knowing it, and therefore forget it. The better alternative is to revise regularly. ‘You won’t start exercising just two days before a marathon, would you?’
The most important machine: the washing machine
The last lecture of the evening was given by mechanics teacher and rollercoaster fanatic Jurnan Schilder. But instead of rollercoasters, he focused on washing machines. ‘The reason why the washing machine is so important is that its vibrating behavior can be used to explain all machines that have rotating components,’ he explained.
According to Schilder, only 3 billion people have access to a washing machine. And interestingly, gender bias also factors in. Countries that do have access to a washing machine are also those where women are equally educated as men, he explained. Further into his presentation, he explained the internal workings of the washing machine through a live experimental setup in the Spiegel building. And he took his passion for improving online learning methods one step further by illustrating graphs through a lightboard.
And the winner is…
After the mini-lectures, the audience consisting of approximately 165 attendees were given a chance to cast their vote, after which Leferink was announced the winner by the jury. In addition to the ‘teacher of the year’ title, she will be awarded a trophy and a cash prize of 2,500 euros.