Meet the Professor: 1,500 children get to know the university

Professors on the steps at Campus Woudestein together with children during Meet the Professor
Child raises hand, professor in class during Meet the Professor 2024
Alexander Santos Lima

Gown on and pedal away: nearly 45 Rotterdam professors went by bike to primary schools in the city on 23 May 2024. As part of 'Meet the Professor', this time they did not lecture students, but taught primary school pupils. This pleased both the professors and the pupils: "After the lesson, the teacher asked who also wanted to become a professor and at least seven or eight children raised their hands," says professor Jaco Dagevos. 

In this first edition of Meet the Professor, 43 schools took part, from Hoogvliet to Capelle aan den IJssel, teaching almost 1,500 pupils in the upper grades about all kinds of subjects. Some examples: fake news, the brain, taxes, what is a Rotterdammer and how doctors decide. Professors also talked about science in general and what a professor does.

Professor of Economics Otto Swank takes a photo with a group of primary school pupils during Meet the Professor 2024
Alexander Santos Lima

Game theory for group 7 pupils

At OBS Pluspunt in 's Gravenland, Professor of Economics Otto Swank explained game theory to group 7 in a simple way. If you do or do not say 'good morning' to your parents, what is the consequence? Will they be happy or grumpy? So you can predict that with game theory. Then he talked about his current research on trust in government using an example: if you need surgery, do you trust the doctor? What does that depend on?

"I found it fun and enjoyable. I didn't expect the professor to be a man. And I learnt new words like improvisation," one student explained. A classmate said, "What I liked most was that the professor went with me to the class and explained all kinds of things. I learned what economics is, because I didn't know that very well before." 

Professors with their gowns on on bikes at Woudestein Campus
Alexander Santos Lima

Curious children ask the most diverse questions

Everywhere the professors went, they encountered children who are incredibly curious and have no qualms about asking all kinds of questions. Professor Jaco Dagevos taught about refugees at OBS De Notenkraker in Hoogvliet. Children who have a refugee background themselves talked about it. But the children also wanted to know whether Jaco Dagevos liked Ronaldo or Messi better, and which subjects he used to like best or worst at school. One pupil was also keen to put on his beret for once, which was of course allowed.

About Meet the Professor

For far from all children, it is natural to continue studying after school, or to know what a university is. The event 'Meet the Professor' introduces primary school pupils to university in an accessible way: by bringing professors to their schools. This way, they get to know what happens at a university, what science is all about and that it is also a possibility for them to go there.

This first edition of Meet the Professor was organised as part of the 110th anniversary and 22nd lustrum of Erasmus University Rotterdam.

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Jaco Dagevos visited primary school De Notenkraker to introduce students to the work of a professor.
Foto van Jaco Dagevos
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