EMBL Grenoble was once again present for the science outreach event ‘Parvis des Sciences’ on Saturday 14 October 2023
Every year in October, France celebrates La Fête de la Science – a week of activities to engage with the general public about science and technology. The event was created in 1991 by the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research.
For more than 30 years, research institutions across the country have joined this initiative with interactive activities to celebrate science and give the participants the opportunity to exchange with researchers.
Initiated in 2007 in the framework of La Fête de la Science, the Parvis des Sciences is a popular event organised in Grenoble by the GIANT campus, combining school visits during the week with a public event on Saturday, largely attended by families.
EMBL Grenoble and its partner institutes from the European Photon and Neutron (EPN) science Campus – the European Radiation Synchrotron Facility (ESRF) and the Institut Laue Langevin (ILL) – traditionally share a booth, with several activities organised for the participants during the public day.
Creativity and focus
This year, EMBL Grenoble invited the youngest participants to a craft activity ‘Draw a cell’, and the other participants to DNA and protein origami folding – not as easy as it sounds! You can try it yourself at this link and fold your own DNA origami! You can also try the protein origami folding.
On the same table, ILL offered participants the chance to build a ball-shaped molecule, while the ESRF organised a dinosaur ‘dot-to-connect’ drawing activity.
An amusing result of these crafting activities was to see the participating children’s creativity flourishing spontaneously, as they mixed activities together by sticking feathers and googly eyes ‘molecule balls’ or making collars out of DNA origami. The event was all about creating positive memories around science and a relaxed space where volunteers could introduce science-related topics to children and their parents.
Participants also enjoyed looking at small crystallised lysosome proteins through EMBL Grenoble’s microscopes while being introduced to protein crystallisation – a structural biology technique that uses powerful X-rays generated by synchrotrons, like the ESRF.
The visitors were invited to try to fish out a protein crystal with a tiny nylon loop. Precision and patience were needed to complete the task, which most of these budding structural biologists enjoyed – some asking to repeat the experience.
With more than 1,000 participants, the Parvis des Sciences was a great moment to encourage curiosity, creativity, and tenacity – essential skills in science (and in life)!
Special thanks go to all EMBL volunteers who shared their enthusiasm for science on this special day!
EMBL Grenoble’s scientists perform fundamental research and develop state-of-the-art instrumentation, methods, and services in structural biology. This field of molecular biology focuses on elucidating at the atomic scale the three-dimensional structure of molecules like proteins or enzymes.
Molecules are the building blocks of life and at the heart of biological processes. Knowing their structure is important information to understand better their specific functions in cells as well as the development of diseases. Structural biologists can provide information to identify genetic diseases caused by malfunctioning molecules or study the molecular mechanism of infectious diseases caused by pathogens like viruses or parasites.