Recognising the importance of engaging beyond our laboratories and to stimulate interest in advances in discovery-based and translational research, the Institute for Stem Cell Science and Regenerative Medicine (inStem) held an outreach event geared towards school children on October 11, 2019. Through this event, we sought to engage with students about the research in inStem’s laboratories as well as generate interest in the upcoming India International Science Festival (IISF) 2019. IISF is an annual event, encouraging young and dynamic minds from across India to share in the vision of building interdisciplinary science in biology, physics, chemistry, and engineering. At the day-long outreach event, students and their teachers from schools from within and around Bengaluru, heard about our research, the excitement of discovery as well the impact of research to human health and our daily lives. Interactions involved students, postdocs and faculty from inStem and the campus. The visitors engaged with various aspects of research, such as studying regeneration using the flatworm planaria; 3D tissue printing and tissue engineering; skin biology and wound healing; developing strategies to ameliorate pesticide toxicity, and the use of model systems such as Drosophila to study complex human disorders, amongst others. The displays included videos, pictorial representations, as well as games and small discussions groups, which were developed and managed by energetic younger researchers from the inStem community (student and post-doctoral fellows), striving to communicate their passion for research in accessible ways. In turn, both teachers and students were inspired by the day’s offering, which was also reflected in their appreciative feedback.
In all, more than 900 students from14 rural and urban schools (from in and around Bengaluru) visited the campus in the full day event. An added bonus for our visitors included an extended tour of the ongoing Lab Culture-II exhibition, curated by Ishita Shah in collaboration with the Museums and Field Stations Facility (MFS). As part of the continuing engagement exploring the intersection of art and design with science, the displays in this exhibition expanded the scope of the earlier interactions, using bright lights, musical notes and neat visual tricks to explain how the human lung responds to injury or how electrical impulses are transmitted in our brains.
The calibre (and enthusiasm) of our visitors was inspiring! Many amongst the bright young minds who spent the day at inStem stood out for their sophisticated questions, their curiosity and (despite their youth), giving serious consideration to research as a career path.