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Debrecen: The Hungarian Science on Stage festival 2016

The Hungarian Science on Stage Festival was organised in the Agora Science Centre in Debrecen between 7th and 9th October. Almost 100 participants, devoted to science education, presented their most innovative tools and methods starting from simple handmade experiments up to educational projects accomplished in international cooperation. This is an amazing development in the Hungarian Science on Stage history: in 2010 – and before – there were only about 12-16 projects presented at the national festivals, whereas in 2014 this number was already 43, and this year it raised up to 93 projects, presented by more than 150 teachers. Csaba Sükösd from Science on Stage Hungary reports:

"The participants of the festival had the opportunity to visit the Institute for Nuclear Research, Hungarian Academy of Science (MTA Atomki), which hosts also a Historic Site of the European Physical Society. A day later, they were invited to visit the research laboratory and production hall of the National Instruments Ltd, one of the leading high-tech industrial player of the region. 

On 7 October the opening ceremony started with a series of greetings: the vice-mayor of Debrecen, the vice president of the National Research Development and Innovation Office (NKFIH), the Director General of the Hungarian Institute for Educational Research and Development (OFI), the vice-rector of the University of Debrecen and the Acting Director of the Ericsson Hungary Ltd. welcomed the participants and wished good success to the festival. Also the secretary general of the Roland Eötvös Physical Society (ELFT), the umbrella organisation for Science on Stage Hungary, welcomed the participants of the festival and the VIP guests, among them were also the representatives of the SAP and BASF Hungary. 

After the greetings Béla Somogyi, – the director of the Agora Science Centre – introduced the host establishment shortly. While he was speaking, small robots walked around following lines on the floor, which were constructed by small kids after a few practices in robotics in the clubs of Agora. He also showed a more sophisticated robot, which solved quickly the Rubik’s cube. The first day ended by two spectacular on-stage presentations.

On 8 October a wide variety of inventions, experiments and teaching methods lined up in the almost 100 stands, covering almost all disciplines of natural sciences. The excited teachers visited each-other’s stands most curiously between the on-stage presentations and workshops. “The most important message of Science on Stage is not the competition, but the cooperation” – said Marta Gajdosné, who won the "European Science Teacher Award" prize together with German colleagues at the international Science on Stage festival in London last year. The chemistry teacher of the Kempelen high school in Budapest is working together with an international team on a common project also this year.

In the fair the dominance of the spectacular experiments in physics and chemistry was compensated by the stands dealing with mathematics, biology, informatics and education procedures. The whole spectrum of public science education was covered from the kindergarten up to university dealing with the formation of teachers. 

On 8 October there was also the “Open Afternoon”, when not only the participants, but also the public was able to visit the festival. The entrance was free, although pre-registration was advised. The available – several hundred – places were completely filled up quickly, several days before the registration deadline, which shows how popular the festival was. There were even groups of teachers and students arriving with charter buses from far away. However, the allowed total number of persons in the building was limited by fire and emergency regulations; therefore many interested people had to be turned away.  

The organisers of the festival placed the on-stage presentation of dr. András Róka in the “Open Afternoon”, so that also the general public could see his very spectacular presentation. The chemistry professor who also held an on-stage presentation in London, and was invited also to Turkey’s national festival, guided the audience through the story of the formation of the universe and life, while objects were exploding, light-up, combined and disintegrated under his hands. The desktop-sized Big Bang exploded synchronized with the background music, light and stars were born like sparkles, and also a real volcano erupted on stage. Life was created in the smoke-filled room as the chemical form of an exciting love story developed. Poetry, music, fiction and science were combined in the big auditorium filled with either loud laughter or loud applaud of the several hundred spectators.

"Let's start in the direction of cooperation." - addressed the teachers Imre Sipos, deputy secretary of state for education at the closing ceremony on 9 October. "Let us involve also the thousands of teachers who are not here right now, and set back the prestige of the science education in the Hungarian schools into its earlier, highly esteemed place!"           

The president of the 26-members jury, Prof. Norbert Kroó also evaluated the event as highly successful. "As high is the number of projects, as many winners should be announced, but the biggest winners are the children that these teachers teach" – he stated.

The president of the jury and the deputy secretary of state for education handed over the diplomas to the 40 leaders of the winning projects, and to their 30 colleagues, who will represent Hungary at the European Science on Stage festival next year in the Kölcsey Centre of Debrecen. In addition, 14 winners were recommended to the international jury for consideration to workshops, and 5 winners for consideration to on-stage presentation.

Finally, 11 “Special Prizes” were handed over to the winners. Those "Special Prizes" were offered by the City of Debrecen, by the National Instruments Hungary Ltd., by the University of Debrecen, by the Institute of Nuclear Research, Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA Atomki), by the Hungarian Chemical Society, by the Agora of Debrecen, and by the Center of Multimedia Pedagogy of UNESCO in the Eötvös University Budapest.

While closing the festival Imre Sipos deputy secretary of state for education expressed his opinion that the next important goal should be that these creative and innovative approaches find their way into possibly all classrooms, so that every student might benefit from them." 

 

Football in Science Teaching: Presentations in Spain and Hungary

From 7-9 October two national Science on Stage festivals took place in Hungary and Spain. Both events in Debrecen and Algeciras were a great success and very well visited. As international STEM teachers network we are especially proud that also teachers from other countries took part in the Spanish and the Hungarian festival and presented our international teacher project iStage 3 - Football in Science Teaching as well as the follow-up project European STEM League.  In Algeciras Philippe Jeanjacquot from France and Pere Compte from Spain gave a workshop based on the brochure. The participants were especially introduced to the teaching unit Under Pressure. In Debrecen Márta Gajdosné Szabó from Hungary, Corina Toma from Romania as well as Richard Spencer and David Featonby from UK answered the questions of their Hungarian colleagues about 'iStage 3' at the festival fair and on stage. Good work everyone!

Kick-off: Press conference on the Science on Stage festival 2017

The Hungarian organizing committee of the Science on Stage festival 2017 held a kick-off press conference on 16 December 2015 in Agora Science Center, Debrecen. It was announced that the city of Debrecen won the right of organization of the festival. The press conference was organized by the mayor’s office. Representatives of several electronic, printed media and television channels as well as numerous interested teachers, head teachers and possible future industrial sponsors were present.

The opening talk was presented by Dr. Csaba Sükösd, the head of Science on Stage Hungary, who introduced the festival and gave a short outlook. As a second speaker Dr. László Papp, the Mayor of Debrecen, went into detail how important the Science on Stage festival is and insured the audience about the full support of the festival. Dr. László Csernoch, the vice chancellor of the Universityof Debrecen, talked about the event from a higher educational point of view, while Béla Somogyi, the director of the Agora Science Center, put emphasis on the importance of the presentation of interesting and catching science experiments in education. Márta Gajdosné Szabó, the Hungarian winner of the European Science Teacher Award 2015, shortly introduced her price-winner project and encouraged all teachers to apply for the Science on Stage festival 2017.