Children university students filled the BME campus

14 groups, nearly 30 scientific presentations and seminars, 60 chaperones and 320 participants. This year's BME Children's University in numbers, with relentless success.

This year's BME Children's University was held between 10 and 14 July 2023. More than 300 schoolchildren participated in the summer science and education camp of BME. The event continues to be popular with primary school pupils, with the waiting list being still a year long.

Moderators of the event were László Orosz, retired Associate Professor of the Institute of Physics, Department of Physics at BME’s Faculty of Natural Sciences (BME TTK) and Zoltán Horváth, master instructor of the Department of Broadband Infocommunications and Electromagnetic Theory of BME’s Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Informatics (BME VIK), who accompanied the youth in the role of the "Owl", the symbol of the event. Almost all faculties of BME were involved in the organisation and management of the event, with 60 BME students supervising the children.

For junior and senior schoolchildren, organisers have prepared separate programmes suitable for their age group. Csaba Gáspár from the Department of Telecommunications and Media Informatics at BME’s Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Informatics talked to the younger ones about the mysteries of artificial intelligence, including Chat GPT, also known as the hallucinating parrot. Attila Géczy, Associate Professor of the Department of Electronics Technology at BME’s Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Informatics, gave a presentation on how smartphones are made, the past, present and possible future of mobile phones, while Levente Dudás, Assistant Professor of the Department of Broadband Infocommunications and Electromagnetic Theory at BME’s Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Informatics, introduced the children university students to the mysteries of pocket satellites. Rita Kiss, Head of the Department of Mechatronics, Optics and Mechanical Engineering Informatics (MOGI) at BME’s Faculty of Mechanical Engineering (BME GPK), told junior students about animal movement and the importance of research on movement. They got to know that the university has a special laboratory dedicated to studying different animal and human movements, and that the data collected in research is also used to develop robotic movements. Zsolt Rapi, assistant professor at the Department of Organic Chemistry and Technology at BME’s Faculty of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology (BME VBK), presented spectacular chemistry experiments, and liquid nitrogen played a starring role in the fascinating experiments of Károly Härtlein, master instructor of the Institute of Physics at BME’s Faculty of Natural Sciences, who performed the experiments in the form of games. "Magic Karcsi" illustrated the importance of physics and natural sciences for both age groups at the Children's University with experiments that allowed students to learn about the phenomena that shape the world around us.

Autonomous cars were a popular topic among senior students, and Zsolt Szalay, Associate Professor at the Department of Automotive Technologies of the Faculty of Transportation Engineering and Vehicle Engineering (BME KJK) and head of the Autonomous Systems National Laboratory (ARNL) at BME, gave a presentation on the topic. Among other things, students were introduced to the ZalaZone test track and the concept of digital twin. During the interactive lecture, the instructor also answered questions from the students, including how fast autonomous vehicles are, whether they are capable of manoeuvres such as drifting, whether it is possible to know when autonomous cars will be on Hungarian roads, and who will be responsible for an accident caused by an autonomous car. László Hazai, private professor at BME VBK Department of Organic Chemistry and Technology, took the older students on a journey into the dark and mysterious world of molecules, while Bence Bodrogi, assistant professor at BME’s Faculty of Economic and Social Sciences (BME GTK), talked to senior students about the history of the creation and use of modern money. Zoltán Vincze of Nokia Bell Labs gave all participants the opportunity to build their first working transistor and lighting circuit from the available components in his lecture titled "The transistor(y)". Bálint Vincze, nature photographer and employee of MVM Paks Nuclear Power Plant Ltd., gave a unique presentation on how he uses his engineering skills when taking nature photos. The Hungarian nature photographer's work has been featured in a number of prestigious national and international competitions and he has won several awards over the years. His collection of photographs, which showcases both his love for nature and his engineering professionalism, was on display in the lobby of the Q building during the BME Children's University.

In addition to the lectures, the more than 300 participants of the BME Children's University toured the university's lecture halls, laboratories, community spaces and library in small groups as if it was a revolving stage. Supported by students and instructors from BME, they participated in seminars on topics such as programming, modern energy management, the science of pneumatics, space games, Industry 4.0 and 3D printing, and also commemorated the 150th anniversary of Budapest and processed archival documents. The scientific and educational camp programme also included team-building community games.

The joint science summer camp of BME and the Pro Progressio Foundation is a unique initiative in Hungary, aiming to introduce primary school students to the joy of discovery and to promote engineering, natural sciences and IT among students. Hungary's presence in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) disciplines, which are also a priority for the European Union, needs to be strengthened, as the role in this field is a major determinant of a country's competitiveness and innovation potential. There is still significant shortage of engineers and technical professionals on the domestic labour market, and BME, as the leading technical higher education institution in Hungary, is committed to making young people aware of the potential of natural sciences, technological progress, engineering and mathematical skills as early and as widely as possible. BME Children's University is one of the institution's programmes to help achieve this goal.

During the academic year, the organisers will offer additional lectures for BME science camp participants in the framework of Children’s University Plus events (e.g. Children’s Day and Santa Claus Physics lectures, Researchers' Night and Physics for All presentations, RobonAUT competition, etc.). At these lectures, which are held several times a year, recognised figures from the world of science and innovation in Hungary present the latest developments, scientific results and successes in an interactive way that children can understand. Although children at the summer camps do not get grades and there is no final assessment, BME has introduced a points system from 2017 to keep students motivated, including mid-year programmes. Credits can be earned by students by participating in Children's University summer camps and mid-year events to earn the symbolic Owl Diploma with a gold or silver certification.

So far, more than 3,300 primary school children have participated in BME Children's University summer camps, with many of the first campers already helping out as university students. This year’s event’s main sponsor was the Pallas Athéné Domus Meriti Foundation (PADME), and was also sponsored by Nokia and Morgan Stanley.

Organisers of the BME Children's University were: Györgyi Dallos, László Farkas, Gábor Hornyánszky, Márta Lángné Lázi, Mónika Lukács, assisted by Dávid Minkó, Tamás Rumi and Eszter Roxana Tóth.


The photo and video documentation of the BME Children's University was provided by SPOT and Budavári Schönherz Stúdió (BSS).


Parents' opinions on the BME Children's University 2023

Parental feedback received by the organisers is positive without exception, with parents saying that the university's initiative to help young people become academically literate is a niche initiative. Children university students enjoyed lectures, interactive activities and community events in a variety of topics. Many adults would have liked to sit in the classroom as spectators. Some parents had children who had no previous interest in programming, but the camp experience had given them a new interest in learning. There was also feedback that children would like to participate in mid-year programmes where they could get a deeper insight into a particular area of science (such as physics or vehicle construction). Several participants have indicated to their families that they would like to continue their studies at BME. Thanks to the experiences and the systematic knowledge gained at the camp, parents and children feel much closer to the institution. Parents particularly emphasised the high quality of organisation and the child-friendly atmosphere created by the instructors, lecturers and accompanying students.


Photo sources: BME Gyerekegyetem Fb