Members of the LMB contribute to Big Biology Day showing how they measure really small volumes of liquids and showcasing varied science careers
The LMB organised an activity for the Big Biology Day focused on highlighting the small scales used in molecular biology and showing the variety of science career paths present at the Laboratory. Over 170 visitors of different ages participated in the activity.
Members of the LMB explained how they measure really small volumes of liquids in their day-to-day work. Beginning with examples from our daily life, such as drinks cans and juice cartons, the team showed visitors the instruments used to measure volumes like measuring cylinders and posed the question: how do we measure volumes as small as microlitres? The answer is using pipettes. Visitors learned how they work and how to use them, before getting hands-on pipetting small amounts of liquid with great precision.
Visitors learned that an important part of the work that is carried out in the LMB requires scientists and technicians to measure out small volumes accurately. To illustrate this, LMB staff showed several examples of what can be found in a volume as small as 10 µl in different fields including Flow Cytometry, Genotyping, Structural Biology, and Microbiology.
An important element of the day was to inspire young people to consider following courses and careers relating to biology. Three posters showcased the variety of job roles at the Laboratory and members of the LMB were happy to chat with visitors about their jobs and career paths.
The LMB activity was developed by Alison Lane and Laura Keech, from Genotyping. They commented: “Helping out at Big Biology Day was a great experience. We really enjoyed talking to members of the public about what we do at the LMB whether that was a quick chat or a longer conversation. Everyone from young children, teenagers and adults seemed to enjoying pipetting and were amazed we worked with such small volumes.” The other LMB members who took place in the activity were Talal Haddad, Pier-Andree, Shahana Ahmed, Yvonne Winterborn, and Elfy Chiang. After the event, some of them commented on their experience:
“It was really good fun to show people just how much we can do with tiny volumes in molecular biology. I particularly enjoyed both children and adults exclaiming, ‘It’s so small I can barely see it!’, when they saw what 1ul looks like. Events like these are always a good reminder that there is real public interest in what we do, and to reignite some of that childlike enthusiasm towards your work.”
“I enjoyed involving children of all ages in our activity and seeing them find pipetting fun and exciting. Even the adults that came with them found it interesting and were amazed by how little 1ul looks. This activity gives people a taste of what many scientists do daily in the labs.”
Big Biology Day is an annual event taking place at Hills Road Sixth Form College and brings together more than 40 departments, institutes, organisations, and companies. It began in 2012 and offers a range of activities about Biology, appealing to people of all ages, expertise, background, and interests.