Next year, back with you again! Report on the KOKI Hungarian Science Celebration event
Sometimes, despite our best efforts, an event or celebration doesn't turn out the way we want it to. Fortunately, this year's Science Festival was a great success.
Organizing a regular annual event, even a small one like a family birthday or Christmas is never easy. While there are phrases that cannot be left out, traditions or family customs that provide a basis and a framework, there must also be something new to make the event alive, worth being there, and worth remembering.
In the case of the Open Days organized by our institute as part of the Hungarian Science Day, the fact that only the teachers accompanying the students from the five high schools are the same, but the students are new ones every year, can make the task easier. However, in a research institute, where everything is about progress, about wanting to know more every day, an event like this has to evolve.
Is there an epidemic and we can't travel as we like? We use the Internet to give lectures and the process is not interrupted. In the following year, although only 37 people in total were able to come, the company was together again, but webcasting remained. It's worth it because, in addition to our small group, sixteen other high schools from around the country will join us during the YouTube broadcast.
This year, five high schools have joined again. True, although there were fewer of us in the lecture hall - last year it turned out that it is not worth organizing laboratory visits for more than 8-10 students per group - thanks to the Institute's YouTube channel, and more precisely to the careful work of Miklós Bucsánszki, there were many more than ever before.
The individually posted presentations have already been viewed 132 times, which is a lot more than 132 viewers!
Already on 21 November 2022, the day of the institute event, teacher Zsolt Nagy from Kiskunfélegyháza came forward to report that although he was unfortunately unable to come with the students of the Móra Ferenc High School, altogether 29 with the teacher, listened to the lectures live.
We have received promises from several other high schools to join us, to watch the lectures, if they can't do it on the day, then afterward. And the opportunity is still there.
An excellent example can be Mr. Géza Kocsis, who retired 2 years ago but till then has accompanied his students since the first Institute event, following the lectures on YouTube from his home in Kisunfélegyháza last year. Long live the internet, but above all, long live teachers like him.
Before the lectures, which started at ten o'clock, high school students and teachers were able to look at a variety of colorful posters showing signaling pathways, explaining the causes of diseases, and also some spectacular microscopic images. But the posters were not just for viewing, everyone could take away whichever one they wanted because Edit Turcsán and her colleagues at BioKasztel had collected them from the warehouse and brought them to them. Every student got more than one of them, and every teacher in the school could have a set of them as illustrative diagrams for classroom or classroom lectures. Advertising, recycling, whatever you want to call it, on behalf of the student population, thank you!
Then the presentations began, with the topics and speakers carefully and fortunately chosen by our Deputy Director László Acsády, who was as thoroughly prepared for his 10-minute welcome speech as our excellent speakers. He also suggested a 30-minute discussion at the end of the program. Since there was no opportunity for questions after each presentation, László Acsády, Erik Hrabovszky, Ádám Dénes, Gábor Nyiri, and Balázs Hangya were able to answer questions from the audience together, complementing each other.
Thanks to a Piarist student who asked not one, but two questions, the dialogue got going rather quickly, and although we said goodbye to our internet visitors after the planned half hour, the Q&A continued during the sandwich lunch, to the great satisfaction of the researchers and students.
Posters and company flyers may not be available next year, but this discussion is definitely an opportunity!
The lab visit after the lunch break also had something new to offer. Our students were able to see an electron microscope that they had never seen before and of which there is only one in the country.
Of course, all the preparation would have been for nothing if our visitors had not appreciated it.
The way and style of their reports are different.
The students from the Fazekas Mihály High School in Budapest, accompanied by teacher Péter Nagy, and the students from the High School, accompanied by Erzsébet Müllner, also sent in a joint review. Individually written short reports, but without mentioning their names, were sent by the students of Dr. Anna Jánossyné Dr. Solt from Városmajori High School, and with signatures of Dávid Vetlényi from Baár-Madas High School and Tünde Szalainé Tóth from Lovassy László High School in Veszprém.
But this is a separate chapter written by the students.
Written by THEM
Summary from the students of Fazekas Mihály High School in Budapest
"We heard four very interesting presentations. All the presentations were easy to follow thanks to the point-simplified presentation style and the basic concepts explained at the beginning. A lot of interesting facts were attached to the topics, the videos kept the attention. I particularly liked the octopus example. Other disciplines were also discussed, broadening our vision (psychology, processing traumatic memories).
The first lecture was on the brain regulation of reproduction, in fact, it was mainly about the hormone GnRH, which stimulates the gonads (ovaries, testes) produced by the hypothalamus, and its effects. It was also a very complex, concise, complex process.
The second lecture focused on microglial immune cells. The role of microglia in immune responses (in engulfing pathogens, damaged, apoptotic cells, etc.) in stopping bleeding and even in antigen presentation in the case of MS was discussed.
In the third lecture, we heard about the role of the hippocampus in memory. We learned that some nerve cells fire when a memory is recalled. And that it is the disinhibition of these memory cells in different combinations that causes memories to form. All in all, it was interesting, easy to follow, and clear, with many new ideas.
The fourth lecture was about neurotransmitters and their role in learning. The lecture was about 3 stimulatory neurotransmitters (acetylcholine, serotonin, dopamine) and we learned about the mechanism of learning (the mouse and its reward experiment.) It was a fun, light-hearted but very exciting, good lecture, I liked the connection with the previous lectures."
Baar-Madas High School
"My favorite part of the Open Day was the presentation on neurotransmitters. It highlighted how many unanswered questions can be answered if we persist in our search. And the best visit was the fluorescence microscopes in the microscopy center. You can take beautiful pictures, I would love to do something similar." Zsófia T., 12.d.
"We gained interesting insights into several branches of science that we had not heard about elsewhere. After the lectures, we also had the opportunity to participate in a round table discussion with the speakers. But my favorite part was the lab visit, full of instruments that made my eyes dazzle." Jasmine F., 12.
"We listened to very interesting lectures, the lecturers were kind, patient, and happy to answer all our questions. The lab visit was also a great atmosphere, we could see beautiful pictures with interesting explanations." Luca V., 12.d.
"It was a special and rewarding experience to gain an insight into the world of KOKI, and I was happy to get a little insight into the research activities at the institution through the scientific lectures and lab work. It was nice to see all the different microscopes and interesting equipment. I also liked the high quality of the lectures, the kindness and expertise of the speakers, and the nature of the presentations." A. Mark, 12.
"The lectures of today's open day were all very detailed; they were all about the nervous system but in different areas. I found the topics very interesting and gained a lot of new information.
I also particularly liked the fact that we were shown so many different kinds of laboratories, so we could see the environment in which researchers work. I was most interested in the electron microscopes, which I had never seen before." Zsófia B. Lilla, 12.d.
Városmajor High School
1, It was a great experience for me to participate in the programs organized by the ELKH KOKI within the framework of the Hungarian Science Festival. We were able to listen to a lot of interesting presentations, which helped us to gain useful knowledge, and at the end of the presentations, we were able to get clear and professional answers to our questions. We were lucky to have the opportunity to see microscopes and other scientific technology up close, which most students do not have the chance to see. I think that our time here has helped us to choose our careers and has also reinforced our commitment to science.
2, The lectures were very interesting, but I liked the labs the most. I found the confocal microscope the most interesting and I was very pleased to hear how it worked. The lab visits in general were also very typical of the lab visits, in that the researchers explained everything clearly and all questions were explained clearly during the lectures, lab visits, and breaks. The presentations were also clear and varied, I liked the insight they gave into the many directions within brain research and how interesting they all are.
Summary from the biology students of Piarist High School
"The very first morning lecture was on the brain regulation of the reproductive organ system. In particular, GnRH neurons act on the pituitary gland to produce hormones but also perform other functions. The GnRH neuron was the main target of the research project as it is a cell found in many places in the human brain, but its exact role and what regulates its function are still unclear.
The second lecture was on inflammatory processes in the brain, related neurodegenerative diseases, and, most importantly, microglia. We learned that there is a so-called blood-brain barrier. It keeps the blood from mixing with the cerebrospinal fluid. The main interest of the lecture was the role and structure of microglia, the immune cells of the brain, and why they play an important role in the clearance of microbleeds and inflammations. Finally, we learned why this defense system ages and the consequences of damaging it.
The third lecture was on memory and the regulation of memory processes.
We talked about the role of the hippocampus as a short-term memory center, its location, and its function. We learned why it is that a face or a smell can trigger memories that we cannot otherwise recall. We also talked about the structure of the hippocampus, the engram cells, and the proteins that inhibit and uninhibited them.
The last presentation was on neuromodulators, the brain's internal drugs, and learning
the regulation of learning. We were able to see how animals behave under the influence of mind-modulating drugs, and then we looked at which known neurotransmitters are responsible for which mental states. For example, serotonin may be a neurotransmitter of patience and calm, and acetylcholine is involved in learning, memory, and attention.
The afternoon program included visits to five different sites. First, we were taken to one of the laboratories, where we were told about the conduct, usefulness, and evaluation of animal experiments.
Then we were shown four different types of microscopes. First, a laser light microscope, which could be used in three dimensions, and then a two-photon light microscope, which is much more accurate and less damaging to the material than the first one. We then moved on to the electron microscope section, where we were shown a scanning and a conventional instrument. The advantage of the scanning light microscope is that the sample does not need to be as thin as its conventional counterpart, due to the different setup.
We all really enjoyed the program, we were able to ask a lot of questions and get clear answers to our questions.
Thank you for the opportunity!
Lovassy László High School in Veszprém
During the day at the institute, we were able to get a first-hand insight into the everyday life of the researchers and learn about the basics of the operation of their instruments in many fields and forms of brain research. The KOKI had a really varied program for us, and the lectures on neuroscience given by the professors were incredibly interesting, making complex systems understandable to secondary school students. My personal interest in neuropsychology got a new boost at the end of the day, and after what I saw and experienced, I am now sure that I would like to do research in my future field of study. (Luca S.)
I speak for all my peers when I say that the KOKI program was a great opportunity for us. We were able to attend lectures of an extremely high standard and, thanks to the lecturers, we were able to understand extremely complex phenomena even as high school students. Our visit was particularly important before we decided on a career, as it gave us an insight into the work of people working in a field close to our interests. As I am currently most interested in psychiatry, the behavioral lab visit was very interesting for me and I feel that the day at the research institute has confirmed my decision to work in a biology-related field in the future. (Luca K.)
Acknowledgments are always included at the end of scientific articles. It has its place here too.
Thanks and appreciation to all our speakers, but also to those who gave small lectures during the laboratory visits, five times in a row, and who may well have had to answer some questions more than once.
Here is their list:
Szilvia Kőszegi, block surface scanning electron microscope,
Cecília Paraczky, the Hitachi transmission electron microscope,
Pál Vági, Confocal Microscopes at the Microscopy Centre,
Zsuzsa Környei, the two-photon microscope.
Christina Miskolczy and Manó Aliczky, demonstrate the work of the Translational Behavioural Neuroscience Laboratory.
Thanks to Eva Nemes and her assistants for organizing and preparing the sandwich lunch and to the Board of Directors for providing financial support.