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ABE Ireland at St Patrick's Festival 'Big Day Out'

The Amgen Biotech Experience (ABE) Ireland team joined the vibrant street carnival of Dublin's St Patrick's Festival Big Day Out alongside street theatre, music, aerial performances, workshops, crafts and Irish language.

Located in Merrion Square in Dublin city centre, our stand in the Science Zone showed children what it is like to work in a life science laboratory with assistance from real life scientists Dr Alex Ebhardt, Mariana Cardoso, Veronica Ibanez from Systems Biology Ireland and Aoife McNamara and Dr Taciane Alegra from Professor Lorraine Brennan's group (UCD Conway Institute & UCD Institute of Food and Health).

More than 120 enthusiastic children of all ages attended the workshop over the course of the day, with our volunteers showing visitors how to use pipettes – micropipettes for the older ones, and squeezy transfer pipettes for the younger ones. To make this fun, we provided lots of colourful liquids made with food dyes. The children used their pipettes to create beautiful patterns of coloured drops on petri dishes and filter paper.

The ones more adept with the pipettes also made rainbows in a test tube, by carefully pipetting sucrose gradients with a different colour for each layer. In another experiment, children inspected petri dishes inoculated with washed and unwashed finger tips. In order to model this, children were asked to stick their finger into paint – representing bacteria and germs – and then wipe them off on a pair of trousers specially laid out for this experiment. As the children could see for themselves, just wiping the fingers was not sufficient to get it all off. Only washing the hands with soap and water did the job. For those kids interested in CSI, they could also solve a crime scene by comparing DNA bands created by gel electrophoresis.

It was a really enjoyable day for for the team and our volunteers and a great opportunity to pass on our enthusiasm for biology and science to our workshop visitors.

2017 St Patrick's Festival - ABE Ireland

Produced by Dr Robert Schwamborn, ABE Ireland project coordinator

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