The CzecHopes conference attracted 350 high school students to the University campus in Bohunice. They left excited and full of inspiration

At first a little uncertainty and curiosity, followed by enthusiasm for an amazing event, lots of great experiences, information gained and, sometimes, new friendships. This is how the feelings of almost 350 high school students attending CzecHopes, the largest Czech high school conference, could be summed up. The conference was held at the Brno-Bohunice University Campus and in the grounds of Masaryk University’s Faculty of Science at Kotlářská in mid-February.

21 Mar 2024 Leoš Verner

Photo: Marcela Damborská and David Damborský

The students, who came to Brno from all over the Czech Republic and Slovakia, even as far away as Karlovy Vary or Košice, could choose from 40 practical workshops, while their peers or recent students now successful in their fields gave presentations during 18 lectures. During the conference, conference partners at 37 stands gave presentations and offered the students opportunities for self-realisation in areas of potential interest.

Visitors to the student conference enjoyed both workshops and lectures, where they learnt from the experiences of their peers. In the campus corridor, they could also draw inspiration from stands prepared by the conference partners. Photo: Marcela Damborská and David Damborský.

On the first day, the conference visitors could choose two of the workshops on offer, which covered a wide range of topics. Scientists from the Department of Botany and Zoology then took the students to their laboratories, where they were able to study plants at a molecular level. Colleagues from the Department of Experimental Biology explained the life histories of silkworms, stick-insects, fireflies and cockroaches, which they could then examine in detail. Other workshops were prepared by our scientists in cooperation with the conference partners and our colleagues on campus – the Loschmidt laboratories, Bioskop, CEITEC, the MU Faculty of Medicine and MU Faculty of Sports Studies. A group of students also went on a guided tour of the entire campus, during which they visited the Department of Chemistry and the National Centre for Biomolecular Research.

As part of the workshops, students could try working in a laboratory or learn first aid and how to maintain their mental health. Photo: Marcela Damborská and David Damborský.

Those interested in physics were in for a treat at the Kotlářské campus, where a workshop was held on the application of plasma to different surfaces. In cooperation with experts from the company ‘onsemi’, students could also try different technological procedures used in the production of silicon chips in ultra-clean laboratories.

In the panel discussion that opened the second day of the conference, MU Vice-Rector Jana Fialová, MU Vice-Dean Markéta Munzarová and Director of the South Moravian Centre for International Mobility (JCMM) Miloš Šifalda shared their experiences as high school students and the extracurricular activities they enjoyed. They also described what shaped them in their youth and what helped them identify their career direction. This was followed by 18 lectures given by successful peers and university students, including the promising Czech scientist Hana Bernhardová, now studying at Oxford, the young astronaut Jakub Zemek, who has now completed his training in the USA, and Tadeáš Kula, founder of the online bookstore ‘Reknihy’. In addition, visitors could also choose from a range of lectures in the fields of mental health, business and science.

In a panel discussion, MU Vice-Rector Jana Fialová, MU Vice-Dean Markéta Munzarová and Director of JCMM Miloš Šifalda shared their experiences from high school. Photo: Marcela Damborská and David Damborský.

The conference was organised by non-profit organisation CzecHopes, with the help of the MU Faculty of Science as main partner and the patronage of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports. In addition, more than twenty volunteers, mostly university students, helped organise and run the event.

Photos from the event can be found HERE.

Organisers and visitors are already looking forward to next year. Photo: Marcela Damborská and David Damborský.

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