Taking science beyond child’s play

Imagine you were 10 years old again. How do you think it would have felt like to do experiments together with the researchers at the TU/e? Well, this question is best asked to the kids! Dr Danqing Liu and her PhD students Mert Astam, Pengrong Lyu, Duygu Polat and senior engineer Efstathios Barmpoutsis organized a scientific experience for kids from ages 6 to 10. This TU/e-tailored experience took the science beyond child’s play by introducing the kids to cutting-edge stimuli-responsive polymer technology through hands-on activities. It was a hit, visitors Livian, Javan, Andrew and Mykhaylo said it was “amazing to see a piece of plastic come to life!”

The experience also included some lab classics such as the universal indicator experiment, yet 3D-printing technology quickly took the spotlight. The kids unleashed their wild imaginations. According to Andrew, “If I could print anything, I would print the Universe, or at least a new Earth if the Universe would take too long to make.” Meanwhile, Javan said he would “print a hamburger, including the lettuce and tomato.” Mert remarked, “it’s refreshing to see the boundless creativity of our visitors come to life.” The 3-D printing experience engaged the children so strongly, some of our visitors spent up to 4 hours in front of the 3-D printer.

The experience attracted international participants, including North American visitors on tour in Europe. Out of all the wonders they visited in Europe, the kids said that “the science experience was the most wondrous!” Pengrong commented, “it is a great feeling to be inspiring the next generation in our research.” Indeed, all the kids that participated in the science experience made it clear that they are really excited to visit again to start the next chapter of science experiments! Duygu expressed, “organizing this experience really makes me want to re-study my university courses at the TU/e.” Duygu shares this sentiment with Javan and Mykhaylo, who said they would also like to study at a technical university such as the TU/e in the future. A resounding success for the future of the TU/e and its scientific spirit!

Correspondence by Mert Astam