Anna Alíz Tóth, a student of Budapest’s Fazekas Mihály Practicing Primary School and High School and of Milestone Institute, won the First Prize of TUDOK Conference, an international conference organized by The Hungarian Research Student Association. The Hungarian Research Student Association is an internationally unique initiative aiming to embrace young and talented high school students interested in research. Anna won the ’First Prize’ in the ‘Research Plan Array 1.’ section with her research plan titled „The influence of stress generated by time-limit on contextualized spatial short-term memory among 16-18 olds”.

Anna Alíz Tóth

In the following paragraphs, Eszter Sebők asks Anna about the details of the competition, the preparation process, and her personal experience at the conference.

ES: What is the Tudok Conference?

AT: The TUDOK Conference is an International conference organised for high-school students coming from the Carpathian Basin. Students can participate with research conducted, or since this year, carefully planned by them. There are altogether four thematic conferences: the Regional Conference of Transylvania, the Life, and Environmental Sciences Thematic Conference, the Human- and Social Sciences Thematic Conference, and the Applied Sciences and Technology Thematic Conference. After submitting a written draft about one’s research, in the second round, the contestants can present their research or research plan in front of the jury, for which they have ten minutes; this is then followed by five minutes of debate where the contestant has to answer questions posed by the jury.

Based on the results of the regional and thematic conference, the organisers compose the sections for the third and final round. This year, there were altogether nine sections, out of which two were dedicated to the research proposals. In each section, there is a ’Grand Prize’ for the best presentation at the conference and a ’First Prize’ for the best presentation of the section. The section I participated in was called „Research Plan Array 1.”, where there were no Grand Prizes because it is a new section. In my section, I won the ’First Prize’, with my research plan titled „The influence of stress generated by time-limit on contextualized spatial short-term memory among 16-18 olds”, where I examined the relationship between contextualised spatial short-term memory retrieval and the pressure created by time-limit, with the participation of one hundred 16-18 olds. Due to the pandemic, after the second round, I could only conduct my research, online, via Google forms.

ES: How did it feel to participate?

AT: It was a really enjoyable experience that I learned a lot from! Although it took a lot of work and preparation – I’d been working on the research from December 2020 until April 2021 – I got to learn more about the methodologies of conducting research: from reading more than twenty scientific papers on the topic and figuring out the details of the experiment to gathering one hundred participants, it was a journey that was not always easy but was worth it all along the way. I could even experience what happens when one’s original hypothesis is refuted, and how to proceed from the new results.

ES: How did it feel to win? Were you expecting this or were you very surprised? How were the competitors?

AT: After listening to other contestants’ presentations in the second and third round, my main goal became to just bring the most out of myself. Each participant had worked really hard on their research, and just being in the same section and round with them made me feel proud of myself. I especially really enjoyed the final round, where I got to listen to six incredible presentations on a wide range of topics. Knowing this, I feel really honoured to have won the First Prize.

ES: Why did you choose to do a paper on cognitive science? Do you plan to study this in the future?

AT: I became interested in cognitive science last summer, after taking the Cognitive Psychology module at Milestone, and in the future, I would like to study cognitive science at university.