Frozen to the bone! Exploring biological sample preservation

This year again, IBBL (Integrated Biobank of Luxembourg) participated in the 2018 edition of the Researchers’ Days. Through dry ice and liquid nitrogen activities, IBBL’s workshop aimed to explain sample storage and biobanking to students, children and parents alike.

Organised by the National Research Fund and its partners since 2008, the Researchers’ Days is an event taking place every two years and aiming to encourage a direct exchange between researchers and the general public, especially young children and high-school students. Local research institutes therefore have the opportunity to participate through educational workshops and scientific seminars (‘Science Cafés’).

This year, the public could take part in over 30 diverse workshops. IBBL resorted to dry ice and liquid nitrogen to illustrate the principles of biobanking and long-term cryopreservation. Namely, two different activities were held at its stand. The first one consisted in instantly freezing flowers and gummy bears in liquid nitrogen at -196 °C and smashing them with a hammer, as well as freezing bananas and using them to hammer nails into a wood plank! The activity aimed to demonstrate the effects of liquid nitrogen on biological substrates and show its use in the long-term storage of cells and tissues at IBBL. The second activity allowed children and students to make bubbles using dry ice cubes at -80 °C and liquid soap. It sought to elucidate the principle of sublimation and explain the use of dry ice in the transport of biological samples.

By participating in outreach activities such as the Researchers’ Days, IBBL aims to promote science and research among the general public, and particularly the work of Luxembourg’s biomedical research institutions.

The 2018 edition of the Researchers’ Days was held on Friday 30th of November and Saturday 1st of December at the Rockhal in Esch Belval. The first day was entirely dedicated to pre-registered secondary school classes, while the second day was open to the general public.