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MLPM ITN fellow Melanie brings science to classrooms and inspires with simple but exciting experiments

Posted by: MLPM-Admin 7 years, 11 months ago

Did you know that it is possible to extract a strawberry’s DNA using only ordinary kitchen equipment? Or that you can listen to the radio with a receptor built out of everyday materials? MLPM ITN fellow Melanie F. Pradier brought a “household lab” to schools in Madrid and got the students excited about science.

Melanie F. PradierWhen Melanie F. Pradier visited three high schools in Madrid during spring 2016, her goal was no less ambitious than to inspire students, motivate them to take initiative, and promote their inner scientific spirit To do this, she introduced the students to some exciting challenges and opportunities that science brought to the real world.

Starting with an inspiring talk about three ongoing scientific revolutions (data, genetics and the discovery of the universe) and their immense impact on society, she managed to convey that science is not something given, but a progressing field under constant change and revision. In particular, the students became aware that it is a discipline that has to be built by humanity step by step, and for which they should stay critical and open-minded.

Capture radio wavesRadio receiverTo put theory into practice, the students also got the chance to actually do science themselves. The first experiment referred to the data revolution that started with the invention of the transistor and that today is omnipresent in terms of Internet and data mining technologies. The students had to team up and use a simple apparatus made of household materials like cardboard tubes, tinfoil and copper wire to capture radio waves from the air. Together they had to ensure proper contact, extend the antenna, ground the apparatus and tune the radio to finally be amazed by the sound that they were able to hear.

Even more lab feeling came up when the students extracted DNA out of a strawberry and a kiwi. This experiment also only involved easily accessible equipment like salt, a white coffee filter and liquid soap. Following some simple instructions, they were able to make the DNA, that they had earlier only encountered as an abstract concept, visible and concrete. The genetic revolution (evolving from the discovery of the DNA to genome sequencing and genome editing capabilities) materialized in their hands.

Strawberry DNA tools Extracting strawberry DNA Extracting strawberry DNA
Extracting strawberry DNA Strawberry DNA Melanie

Thank you, Melanie, for you efforts to bring science and research closer to society.