The Generació Ciència (“Science Generation”) workshops were held in the gardens in the interior of the Beatriu de Pinós housing block (149-153, Carrer Rosselló, Barcelona), the inner courtyard behind the IDIBAPS headquarters in the Esther Koplowitz Centre. The 250 or so secondary and baccalaureate students from 10 Catalan schools who took part also visited the centre's biobank, the science platform that houses and processes biological samples for research. This year, SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 were again the focus of the workshops.
Escape room: Emergency in the COVIDBANK: In November last year a crime was committed in South Africa. The police asked for assistance from the Clínic-IDIBAPS COVIDBANK, the bank that stores samples taken from patients with COVID-19, as the culprit could have entered the Hospital Clínic while infected with the Omicron variant, which had not yet reached Catalonia at the time. The intrepid students did not hesitate to become scientists and resolve a series of tests to help COVIDBANK staff process the blood samples correctly and identify which of the suspects among the patients each sample was from. The aim of the workshop was to tell students about the role of the COVIDBANK and what studies of SARS-CoV-2 it assists.
How does PCR work? Having identified the samples, the next step was to identify the patient infected with Omicron. To do this, the young scientists learned how to extract DNA from a biological sample. They then simulated the different stages of the PCR technique, with the help of magnets representing the four bases of DNA. Finally, they conducted an electrophoresis to separate and visualise the PCR amplification products, which enabled them to identify the criminal. The aim of the workshop was to familiarise the students with the basics of PCR, a very common and indispensable technique in biomedical research which played a key role in controlling and managing the pandemic.
Generació Ciència is supported by Barcelona City Council and the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT). This year marked the fourth edition of the activity, the three previous events having taken place in 2018, 2019 and 2021.