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サイエンスカフェを開催 / Organize a Science Cafe

 サイエンスカフェを開催しました。遺伝子とDNAをテーマに、バナナからのDNA抽出、ヒト培養細胞(HEK293細胞)の核染色と観察を、参加者にやっていただきました。また、講演では遺伝子とは何か、遺伝物質としてのDNAの発見、二重らせん構造の特徴、DNA複製、遺伝暗号についてお話ししました。遺伝を身を以て示すために、私の家族も参加しましたし、私の子供の友達も多く参加してくれました。一般の方々、まして小学生に話すとなると、うまく伝えるのは至難の業で、どう話すか腕が試されるところです。不正確なことを伝えるわけにはいきませんが、かと言って細かいことを話しても全体の理解の妨げになります。微妙な線です。自分の本業が何なのかを忘れてしまうくらい、準備は入念に行いました(医学研職員なので、これも本業か)。  でも、参加者のみなさんが楽しそうに実験をしているのを見て、準備した甲斐があったと思いました。私達にとってはこれ以上ないくらい日常風景に溶け込んでいる遠心機が、あれだけ大勢の人達の注目を集めるのを見るのはこの先二度とないかもしれません。また、バナナDNAもかなりきれいに出てきましたし、核もきれいに染まりました。子供達が嬉しそうで本当にやってよかったです。私達の日々の実験もこれくらい失敗しないといいのですが…実際はそうはいきませんね(だからこそ面白くもあるわけですが)。


We organized a Science Cafe, an institutional public free event. The theme was "genes and DNA." The participants tried extraction of DNA from bananas, and staining and microscopic observation of the nuclei in HEK293 cells. Also, I gave a talk about the genes, the discovery of DNA as a genetic material, the features of the DNA double helix, DNA replication, and the genetic code. My family participated in this event to show what the heredity is, and a lot of my kids' friends were there too. Talking to non-scientists, even kids, is quite a challenge. It really requires a special skill. You definitely do not want to tell a lie, but too much details would hinder people's understanding the whole picture. There is a thin line there. I spent so much time preparing for this event that I almost forgot what my real job is (well, I guess that IS my real job as an employee of the Institute).

However, after seeing the participants really having fun with the experiments, I convinced myself it was worthwhile. Perhaps, I will never see just a normal centrifuge attracting that much attention from so many people again. The extraction of DNA from bananas and the nuclear staining were all successful. It was truly delighting to see kids were happy and excited. I wish our experiments in the lab everyday could be as successful as they are..., but that is not the way it is (and that is why it is interesting as well).

To organize this event, I got a lot of help from the lab members, admin people, students, and people kindly lent us mixers to puree the bananas. I appreciate all of them. I hope the participants had a great time at the event.

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