Walking through cells and organs

Türöffner-Tag in Virtual Reality

For the 8th time, October 3rd was dedicated to children and families all over Germany. The famous TV show "Die Sendung mit der Maus" had called for the nationwide "Türöffner-Tag" – a day when doors are opened that normally remain closed for children. The Center for Systems Biology Dresden (CSBD), which is located next to the MPI-CBG, was one of about 800 German institutions participating and took 30 curious children on an exciting journey into cells and organs.

In the Virtual Reality CAVE at the CSBD, our small guests “walked” into a virtual mouse liver, "touched" the chromosomes of a cell, and saw a 3D reconstruction of a developing fruit fly embryo. Using special 3D glasses the kids delved deep into virtual reality and experienced the inner life of organs - like in a 3D cinema! 
The software to transfer microscopy images into 3D simulations is a prototype developed at the CSBD. Usually, the scientists use the CAVE to better analyze biological samples in order to understand how cells form tissues.

The Door Opener Day was organized in cooperation with six other microscopy centres of the "German BioImaging Society for Microscopy and Image Analysis" (GerBI-GMB), which were simultaneously opening their doors to over 200 children. The microscopy infrastructure at the CSBD is part of the Dresden Microscopy Centre, the "Biopolis Dresden Imaging Platform - BioDIP".

Amazed faces, countless questions, and requests for internships showed that we had hit the mark. We might even have inspired some kids to become the next generation of life scientists, who knows…

Many thanks to the organizers, all our visitors and the “Maus” for making it a great day!