[By Aleix Cabrera and Raül Toran, Communication and Dissemination Area of ISGlobal]
The open day has reached its eleventh edition and it is in good healthEvery first Saturday of October, the Barcelona Biomedical Research Park (PRBB) opens its doors to the public in order to present the research carried out by the six institutions that work in it, including ISGlobal –a centre supported by the "la Caixa" Foundation. The open day has reached its eleventh edition and it is in good health, judging by the attendance (around 2,000 visitors) and the number of volunteers helping with the event (255 people).
The PRBB celebrates its open day every first Saturday of October. (Photo: PRBB)
It allows us to deepen our understanding of science, discover new concepts, and meet partners The authors of these lines did not miss the annual appointment; in fact, we confess our recidivism. We both work every day so that the research of the different ISGlobal teams goes beyond the work environment, such as laboratories, offices or meeting rooms. We can say that this open day is part of our DNA and that we participate by professional bias. Regardless, doing so brings us even closer to the research task and helps us better understand it.
350 visitors could observe very closely zebrafish embryos, fruit flies that had a genetic mutation and some mouse tissues. (Photo: PRBB)
Being tour guides or giving workshops of experiments organised by other centres, such as microscopy or the visit to the IMIM tissue bank, allows us to deepen our understanding of science, discover new concepts, and meet partners with whom we would probably only cross a glance at the bar or in the corridors. In short, it enriches us as professionals and as individuals.
The ISGlobal researcher Laia Vicens explains how to measure air pollution in one of the guided tours.
The ISGlobal team showed once again that Barcelona fails in air quality also allows us to explain ISGlobal face to face. This year, for example, we had a display station on the guided tour number 8, where a team showed how to measure air pollution. The visitors were able to quantify two pollutants that negatively affect our health: nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter (PM).
"They were struck by the existence of these particles, which they knew nothing of, and by the fact that they come mainly from motor vehicle traffic," recalls ISGlobal researcher Laia Vicens. During the visit, she explained how "the streets with more traffic and confined by buildings are more exposed to pollution" and stressed that "the concentration of the most harmful particles in suspension should not exceed an annual average of 10 micrograms per cubic meter, or a daily average of 25 micrograms per cubic meter, as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).”
A visitors to the ISGlobal station measures particulate matter with an AIRBEAM detector granted by CSIC.
From the internal and external measurements made by several groups, the ISGlobal team showed once again that Barcelona fails in air quality –the air pollution levels exceeded the 30% limit proposed by WHO.
On the other hand, we also participated in the #OpenPRBB with a talk on the effects of air pollution on our working memory and attention. We even tested it and some participants were able to remember up to 14 of the 15 words that were part of the test. Thanks to research –and specifically to the BREATHE project coordinated by Jordi Sunyer– we know that students from schools exposed to road traffic pollutants have also a decreased attention span and an impaired working memory growth.
Raül Toran, the person responsible for outreach ISGlobal, gives a talk on air pollution effects.
In other PRBB spaces, children could attend science drawing workshops, recreate the DNA structure with sweets, play "Who is who" of science, and see some biological structures with 3D glasses, among many other activities.
More than 2.000 people attended Children Area, Youth Area, workshops and experiments. (Foto: PRBB)
The Saturday event closed fifteen very intense days in terms of scientific dissemination and during which we have stressed the need for rethinking the city model to achieve a healthier environment. On September 21, we co-organized the Park(ing) Day Barcelona and, a week later, we celebrated the European Researchers' Night which, on this occasion, we helped extend across the entire Catalan geography.
Farewell to an educational and joyful open day. (Foto: PRBB)