A night to share the wonders of science 

EMBL Rome celebrated the European Researchers’ Night by participating in an event organised at the CNR Campus in Montelibretti

Public engagement activities presented at the European researchers Night. Credit: Rossana De Lorenzi/EMBL

The European Researchers’ Night is a project promoted by the EU and implemented through the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions. It has taken place every year since 2005. The 2023 edition took place simultaneously in 26 countries, with several initiatives aimed at citizens of all ages to raise awareness of scientific research and its impact on society.  

This year, EMBL Rome was invited to contribute to the event organised at the CNR Research Area RM1 in Montelibretti, a few kilometres north of EMBL. The campus is the largest research area of the CNR and houses 11 Institutes focusing on different research topics, including environment, food and agriculture, cultural heritage, chemistry, and physics. Besides EMBL, the event involved other external partners, such as CREA (Centre for Agricultural Research) and the non-profit association SCOOL (Science is cool).

The programme was spread over two days. In a pre-event, on Wednesday 27 September from 9:00 to 13:00, the Campus opened its doors to a selection of secondary schools from Rome and the surrounding area and to representatives of the CNR management and local administrations. The visitors were divided in groups and participated in over 30 activities ranging from laboratory experiences to games, lectures, exhibits, and a scientific trek. 

A students is observing a sample at the microscope.
Microscopy activity prepared for the pre-event, open to secondary school students and local administrations. Credit: Rossana De Lorenzi/EMBL

The actual event took place on Friday 29 September from 18:00 to 23:00, registering over 1000 visitors, mainly young students and families, and featuring over 50 activities. EMBL scientists contributed a series of activities aimed at different age groups, reflecting EMBL Rome’s research focus on epigenetics and neuroscience.

EMBL volunteers invited the public to try out different types of microscopes and appreciate their features and the level of resolution they can achieve, or ‘see’ the electric signals carrying information from brain to muscles by applying electrodes to their own muscles. They also prepared a series of optical illusions that captured the attention of young and old alike to explain the mechanism behind the visual process. For younger audiences, scientists proposed craft activities such as ‘DNA bracelets’ and ‘DNA origami’, which effectively illustrate the basic features of DNA sequence and structure.

Scientists preparing the activities fro the young audience (DNA origami and DNA bracelets)
EMBL volunteers setting up the EMBL booth and engaging with the younger audience. ‘DNA bracelets’ and ‘DNA origami’ are simple activities used to explain the basic features of DNA: nucleotide sequence, complementary base pairing and double helix structure. Credit: Rossana De Lorenzi/EMBL

“This event was a great opportunity to increase our synergies with the local scientific community,” said Cornelius Gross, Head of EMBL Rome. “I hope that we will have more opportunities in the future to strengthen our collaboration and build on our complementary skills for both research and outreach initiatives.”

“The success of this event reflects people’s great interest in science and scientific research,” said Francesco Petracchini, Director of the CNR Institute of Atmospheric Pollution and President of the Research Area RM1 in Montelibretti. “We are very happy to have joined forces with EMBL colleagues to further enhance the scientific resources of the territory, and we look forward to exploring other areas of common interest.”

Tags: cnr, european researchers' night, outreach, public engagement, rome


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