European Learning Laboratory for the Life Sciences

Our inspiring educational experiences share the scientific discoveries of EMBL with young learners aged 10-19 years and teachers in Europe and beyond.

Event report: Nacht der Forschung 2019

On 27th September 2019, for a second year, the European Researchers’ Night took place in Heidelberg and Mannheim under the slogan “Expedition: Curiosity”. In 2019 this science festival was held across 371 European cities.

The European Learning Laboratory for the Life Sciences (ELLS), the education department of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) coordinated the event titled “Nacht der Forschung” in the Rhein-Neckar region. The festival successfully garnered public awareness about research and highlighted its influence on our daily life through more than 130 activities hosted by 15 different research and cultural institutes. Visitors were able to easily commute between the different venues with the freely offered festival shuttle.

From 15:00 to midnight, over 7000 visitors enjoyed numerous engaging activities in EMBL and its partner institutions: Heidelberg University, Max-Planck-Institute for Astronomy, German-American Institute (DAI), Heidelberg University Hospital, German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), TECHNOSEUM, ExploHeidelberg, the creative industries center Dezernat 16, Heidelberg University of Education, Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University Mannheim, Max-Planck-Institute for Comparative Law and International Law, Planetarium Mannheim and the SRH University Heidelberg. The city of Heidelberg also joined as a cooperative partner.

The European Researchers’ Night venues offered to the visitors exciting opportunities to be immersed in science. The numerous activities on offer ranged from lab tours, debates with scientists, hands-on activities and exhibitions, jazz concert and dance performance. The activities on offer at EMBL inspired and engaged the audience and there was something for everyone: from the youngest visitor who explored the world of cells by creating their own edible cells using cookies and candy and discovered how DNA encodes data through a colorful activity involving Lego blocks. The more mature visitors were transported by the fascinating tours of the institute. These engaging guided tours took the visitors through the institutes laboratories, captured their imagination as they walked down the history of the institute in the EMBL archives and took them to a high-tech journey through the IT department. Playtime was not only for the young ones but even the grown-ups got to ‘play science’ and be scientists themselves as they solved a century old mystery using the molecular biology methods of polymerase chain reaction and identified a criminal through DNA analysis. Visitors could also explore the cosmos and the microcosmos through  hands-on activities such as building their own foldable microscopes. There was also something for the creative minded visitors- the exhibition “REMIX – Science and Creative Industry” and a highlight of NIGHT at EMBL, a collaboration between EMBL scientists and the Dance Theatre Heidelberg, a piece entitled ‘Creating is understanding’ which showcased excerpts from Iván Pérez piece ‘Becoming’ followed by a subsequent discussion on the cohesive transmission of information on a molecular level. These activities borne of a harmonious marriage of the elegant yet rigid world of research with the graceful and fluid world of the creative industry, each complemented the other and offered the visitors a feast for both the mind and the soul.

As the evening drew to a close the European Researchers’ Night 2019 was heralded by its visitors to be a captivating event which made them curious to learn more about life, the cosmos and the world of research. The team Nacht der Forschung said a grateful goodbye, as it successfully completed this two-year project, funded by the European Commission under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions (No. 817589).