Girls and Boys Day 2022 at MDR WISSEN: Dental Research Meets the Future

Usually in the future day with dental researcher Dr. Elaine Schulz-Kunas would enter the lab in Leipzig, and she would look at chewing machines and toothbrush comparators, perhaps making video, taking pictures or making radio recordings. This would have been a very practical insight into the work of MDR WISSEN. But in 2022, the future day at MDR WISSEN will be virtual again, we meet on a video platform, Pirmin from Bonn, Len from Hamburg and Vanessa from Landsberg. The three’s favorite subjects are English, German, Physics and Chemistry. Researcher Dr. Elaine Schulz-Kornas was interested in biology from an early age and always loved collecting fossils as a child.

Thanks to homeschooling, the three teens are experienced, patiently fumbling through technology so we can all see and hear each other at the same time. Working on a huge programme, the different ways in which MDR WISSEN reaches a variety of target groups, we listen to a podcast from the Big Bääm series, the youngest kid on the MDR WISSEN editorial team, on the topic “When should one be allowed to vote?” and their assessment: “Exciting sound effects , attractive, but has a lot of sound effects,” the three young men agree. (It’s funny, I would have said it if I had been asked.)

A tool in the press: questions. But true!

Then it becomes practical, we talk about working at MDR WISSEN. What is our main job as a journalist? “They were interviewed or reported on the spot,” Bermin suspected. That’s right, you can’t do it without the right tools. After all, it is vinegar with the answers if you ask in a very inaccurate or imprecise manner. You know that when you were a kid, when you come home and your parents ask, “Well, how was school?” – “Nice.” You have to do it differently, but how do we ask correctly so that no “yes” or “no” are given? We’ll rehearse on the spot, simulate an interview situation, change roles, I’m the guest, she’s the journalist. We also evaluate what did well and what did not do right away, for example when you have to “catch” the interlocutors when they keep looking for something they did not ask about because they want to divert attention from the topic.

What does a dental researcher do?

Then the training begins. To Dr Elaine Schulz-Kornas, a dental researcher at the University Hospital Leipzig, the three of the eighth graders test their new knowledge of questioning techniques. All three do this with great confidence, after the interview I would like to immediately become a dental researcher. But that’s always been the case for me, when people explain their jobs or research clearly, a spark often jumps. Dr. Schulz-Kornas teaches and conducts research, manages the laboratory, prepares lectures and seminars, and evaluates students’ research work. The questions that matter to her are fascinating: “Why are our teeth, which we have today, as they are? I must also understand how they looked in our human ancestors. That is why I often work with other anthropologists or archaeologists together and of course with veterinarians. For example, I reconstruct Diet when I see signs of wear on the teeth.” Does this sound like detective work? “It is,” asserts the researcher. But young people are also discovering that very practical questions make their way into everyday life: “A colleague who is a dentist comes to me and asks, ‘I don’t know, why do fillings always fall out? “Then I’m the one who says, OK, let’s see how we can figure out why. Then the dentist can treat a lot better all of a sudden because I’ve developed a method that he uses then.” Can you still look at people without analyzing their teeth? “It’s an occupational disease,” Dr. Schulze Cornas laughs.

Kick Off This Practice: 30 Minutes of Conversation, What Hangs?

Half an hour later we finish the round of questions, the young people now do what the journalists would do: summarize what they learned and what surprised them. All three are surprised that the dental researcher herself does not work on the teeth and dentures of living people. She is not allowed to because she is not a dentist. Remember Permin the chewing machine that Dr. Schulz Cornas reported. “A chewing machine helps a dental researcher in her work. You can use it, for example, to find out what a person has previously eaten based on abrasions and scratches on the tooth surface. However, this researcher deals not only with people’s teeth, but also with teeth throughout animal kingdom down to millions of years ago.” Bermin’s conclusion: “The dental researcher’s work has a wide scope, which is why you don’t have a routine job as a dental researcher. As a dental researcher, you can look at and examine real skeletons of people who lived over thousands of years ago.” indicates d. Schulz-Kornas has already worked. Lin concludes, “You can’t do that without taking an interest in biology, because you also work a lot with animal teeth and dentures.” Vanessa sums up her impressions as follows: “I found it very interesting that she was allowed to work on dinosaur teeth and that her job was very diverse. The scientist gave us a really detailed idea of ​​her day job, where you can really put yourself in shoes. Her life also seemed very interesting, Because she taught and researched at a university in the United States of America.”

Let’s think: press = sexy?

So this is what life in science could look like. And what do the three take with them from journalistic work? For Vanessa, it is clear: “For me, being a journalist means dealing with many sources and being able to distinguish what is important and what is not. You also have a diverse job, because you can write reports on all topics. I have been passionate about journalism and distributed all Possible media channels (podcast, social media, etc.)”. What did Lynn comment? “I find the job of a journalist very interesting and I can imagine working on this topic in the future. The job sounds very exciting, but I can also imagine that it is stressful at times and you have to write a lot. However, I love to learn something new every day.” Pirmin also says, “Being an editor is in my view a good job, but it can also be stressful. I imagine writing an essay on a particular topic is very exciting, because you finally see the finished product and are proud that you are eager to pass the information on to others” . He suspects, “The stressful part could be all the work and constant focus. But I still imagine the job as an editor for MDR or other exciting and good media, because you’re faced with new realities every day.”

Conclusion: Research or Journalism?

Then ask all the questions, after this short journey into two professional worlds via video meeting: If you had to decide, would you rather be a researcher or a journalist? Lean leans more toward the media, and Bermin shakes his head, arguing, “It’s hard to tell, a researcher can be many things, I’d like to be an astronomer, but a journalist might be more interesting.” It’s clear to Vanessa: it is a media world. “I find it interesting to learn from a lot of people and experience the processes.” And for us in the editorial office, the interesting question remains: what will we see next from the three studies, scientific studies or perhaps articles?

Training in MDR

By the way, the next opportunity to get acquainted with the MDR is already on June 11. This Saturday, MDR and MDR Media invite you to the seventh day of training. On this day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the lobby of the towering MDR production building on Kantstraße in Leipzig, schoolchildren and their families can learn more about nine different professions, double studies, editorial trainings on the islands of practice, guided tours, and many more workshops.

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