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Tilburg University nominates four scientists for Klokhuis Science Award

Published: 23rd January 2023 Last updated: 23rd January 2023

This year, Tilburg University has nominated four research projects for the Klokhuis Science Award. This award is presented every year for research that is interesting as well as relevant for children aged 9 to 12. The award aims to make a broad and young audience familiar with scientific research in the Netherlands. The award ceremony is on Sunday, March 19.

The four nominated research projects:


I spy with my little eye … How your eyes predict with whom you will fall in love
Researcher: Tila Pronk

Why do you fall in love with some people and not with others?

To study this, we tested what happens in our bodies when we are looking at pictures of people. And guess what … the size of your pupils predicts whether you like someone! This happens because our pupils automatically become bigger if we see something that we like or find interesting or remarkable. We can’t control this.

This is extremely interesting because, rationally (that is: using our brain), we are very bad at deciding whom do and do not like! So our body know better than our brain.

Watch a lecture by Tila at University of the Netherlands. 

Tila Pronk - Klokhuis Wetenschapsprijs

How math reduces hunger
Researcher: Meike Reusken (Zero Hunger Lab)

There are many people in the world who go to bed hungry. This is a big problem, not only abroad but also in the Netherlands. More than 150,000 people are dependent on a food bank for their daily meals. At the same time, a third of all food is thrown away.

Researchers of the Zero Hunger Lab have developed mathematical models, for instance, making it easier to determine how much food should go to what city or what the best route is for trucks to take the food there. In this way, it is easier to divide the food among the people who need it, and less food is wasted.

More information about Zero Hunger Lab

Meike Reusken - Klokhuis Wetenschapsprijs

A robot teaching you English?
Researcher: Jan de Wit

A robot in the classroom, how cool is that! We studied whether a robot can teach toddlers English. It turns out that yes, it can! The children preferred being taught by a robot to learning using a tablet. This is because the robot looks a bit like your teacher, with arms, legs and a face. He can talk and move. A robot can, for instance, mimic riding a horse to act out the English word “horse”. Our study shows that this helps children learn new English words.

Watch the Junior University lecture in which Jan tells about his research on robots.

Jan de Wit

Sixpacks on the social media: Do fitness influencers make us doubt ourselves?
Researcher: Ini Vanwesenbeeck (Center for Social Influence)

Do you follow influencers on TikTok, YouTube or Instagram? They are popular and have many followers. Influencers do not only have an effect on what we think or buy, but also on how we feel. We studied the effect of fitness influencers who post messages on sports and fitness and show their fit or muscular bodies. How do their followers feel when watching these posts?

Guess what? If you recognize yourself in the influencer, you will usually feel better about your own body. If you look up to an influencer, it is possible that you are less satisfied about your own body.

Listen to the Tilburg University science podcast Science Quest about child influencers.

Ini Vanwesenbeeck - klokhuis wetenschapsprijs

The winner

On February 3, Het Klokhuis will announce a top 10 of all research projects submitted. From February 27, 2023, the public can vote via the Klokhuis website for the study that, in their opinion, deserves the Klokhuis Science Award. Het Klokhuis will make and broadcast a program on the winning research project. The winner will be announced in March.