Tokyo Tech News

Doctoral students lead mock lectures, exchange at local high school


Published: November 26, 2020

Seven Tokyo Tech doctoral students paid a visit to Senzoku Gakuen Junior & Senior High School to give mock lectures on their research and hold group discussions with approximately 240 first-year high school students on November 4. The visit, the first of its kind, was conducted as part of the Academic Leader Program Practice I (Teaching)outer, a career development course provided by the Innovator and Inventor Development Platform (IIDP).

Senzoku Gakuen Junior and Senior High School is a girls' school that consistently produces graduates who go on to study at Tokyo Tech. Last year, the school informed the Institute that many of its students were interested in learning more about cutting-edge technology and hearing about current research projects directly from Tokyo Tech students. After carefully examination of the circumstances caused by COVID-19, both institutions decided that the event could be held in person.

For Tokyo Tech, the event provided a golden opportunity not only to enhance the teaching skills of doctoral students, but also to encourage more young women to join the STEM fields and the Institute.

What do students actually learn at Tokyo Tech?

To kick off the event, Institute Professor Kazuo Shinozaki from Tokyo Tech Admissions held a short talk on the history and characteristics of the Institute, and what the life of a graduate student may consist of. He touched on key points such as research labs, dissertation research, the liberal arts, and the importance of gaining study abroad experience.

Institute Prof. Shinozaki speaking about scitech universities

Institute Prof. Shinozaki speaking about scitech universities

Mock lectures: From nuclear fusion to gender studies

Next, it was time for Tokyo Tech's doctoral students, including two international students speaking in Japanese, to give lectures on their research. Topics varied from nuclear fusion to information systems, the evolution of plants, and gender in science and technology. Before the event, Tokyo Tech students held discussions to brainstorm the best ways to explain their research to first-year high school students. Tokyo Tech students also gave lectures on the joys of science, the thrills and difficulties of research, and their motivation for entering the doctoral program.

Doctoral students talking about their university life and research

Doctoral students talking about their university life and research

Q&A: Do female students have any particular challenges in the doctoral program?

After the lectures, the high school students were divided into seven groups to enable closer exchanges with their seniors. Senzoku Gakuen students are expected to complete a research paper in their second year of high school, and this group session offered a great chance for Tokyo Tech students to provide advice on setting a research topic, collecting data, and compiling research papers. Shinozaki and two other Tokyo Tech faculty members – Professor Emeriti Noriyuki Kouchi and Hirofumi Akagi – also joined in to share their rich experiences with the high schoolers.

Throughout the session, the high school students put forth some excellent questions to gain more knowledge about their potential futures:

  • Why did you choose Tokyo Tech?
  • How did you study for the entrance exams?
  • How many female students are there at Tokyo Tech?
  • What should I do if I want to become a university professor?
  • How tough is advanced scientific research, and if I choose that path, what kind of life should I expect?
  • Do female students have any particular challenges in the doctoral program?
  • I have heard that it is difficult to find a job if one pursues a doctorate, but is this true?

Discussion in groups

Discussion in groups

Positive impact in the lives of others

This exchange was a valuable opportunity for Tokyo Tech students to experience the joys and challenges of explaining their research to high school students. It also allowed them to convey the wonders of science and Tokyo Tech to their audience. Overall, the day was all about connecting with younger generations and making a positive impact in their career development and lives.

Comments from high school participants included the following:

  • I gained understanding regarding what it means to study at university.
  • I learned the importance of having a broad perspective, finding what I really want to do, and then carving out my own way to new discoveries.
  • I really want to do my best in becoming an expert in my field after I enter university.
  • I understood the importance of always remaining active with my learning.

IIDP and Tokyo Tech's career development programs

IIDP was established in 2013. Since then, the platform has been providing doctoral students with career development programs that support the career plans of each individual student. Students considering careers at universities or research institutions, for example, are provided with practical classes in academic and dissertation writing, presentations, grant application writing, and teaching.

Other courses are facilitated by frontline employees of collaborating companies, allowing students to learn discover and solve real-world problems experienced by customers and members of the public. Company partners also offer students an inside view of the cutting-edge research and development being conducting at startups and other companies expanding their reach globally.

Through a diverse curriculum that includes exchange events with middle and high schools and various other efforts, IIDP will continue to support strongly the career development of Tokyo Tech graduate students.


Innovator and Inventor Development Platform Office