‘Professor, can I have your signature?’

News - 14 April 2022 - Webredactie 3mE

Is a wind turbine blade as tall as the Nieuwe Kerk in Delft, 107 metres? Can one rotation on a turbine provide a household with its energy needs for a whole day? The Year 7 pupils from Mozaïek primary school in Delft experienced surprise after surprise during Professor Jan-Willem van Wingerden’s ‘Meet the Professor’ guest lesson. This year, 33 Delft professors visited various primary schools in Delft to introduce them to science. Seven professors from our faculty took part.

‘This is much more fun than a regular class. I didn’t realise that a professor would be so nice and also so “ordinary”,’ said one of the students.

In the context of the TU Delft anniversary theme, ‘speeding up the energy transition’, Wiebren de Jong, professor of large-scale energy storage, participated in this year's ‘Meet the Professor’ event. The Year 7 pupils joined him in thinking about making the CO2 ‘blanket’ thinner and drew all kinds of possible ways of living in a house without coal or gas.

Wiebren de Jong: ‘It was special to participate for the first time. The children were good at thinking outside the box (for example, about how to make their homes gas-free). Some of them even asked for my signature, something students never ask for. It was a wonderful experience to take part in and one that’s certainly worth repeating!’

In addition to Wiebren de Jong and Jan-Willem van Wingerden, Just Herder, Paul Breedveld, Joris Dik, Jenny Dankelman and Maarten van der Elst were also present again. They were participating for the second time and were once again surprised by the enthusiastic students and the unique way they look at their field.

What struck me most about my class was that the students knew the right answer to all my questions – and my questions were quite technical. I think that's great; it seems to me that is a class full of budding mechanical engineers!

Paul Breedveld (medical instruments & bio-inspired technology)

The pupils liked my video of a robot operation so much that I had to restart it. They asked what kind of car I have and whether I find blood scary. Great!

Maarten van der Elst (chirurg & BioMechanical Engineering)

What I really liked is that at a certain point there were lots of questions that were completely in sync with what I wanted to tell them anyway. The pupils were already thinking ahead about the impact of operating through small openings. That was very clever.

Jenny Dankelman (minimally invasive surgery)

Children have such a fresh, unbiased perspective when they look at paintings. When I asked them “What looks real” in the painting The girl with the pearl earring, they gave me very clear and surprising answers, such as “she doesn't have any eyebrows”.

Joris Dik (Art & Archaeology)

In the context of biomedical aids, the pupils chose to design something that enables you to easily pick up your door key from the ground if you’re in a wheelchair. In the limited time available, they came up with a surprising variety of solutions. From the familiar cleaner’s grabbers to robotic arms, a hoover with a basket where the key can fall into, or a magnetic strip around the circumference of the rear wheels so that you can drive over the key, then back up half a turn so the key is on top of the wheel and you can pick it up. These last two very original ideas came from two girls, by the way! In short, it was great fun, as usual.

Just Herder (Interactive Mechanisms and Mechatronics)
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