The Dresdner Lange Nacht der Wissenschaften (Dresden Science Night) is Dresden’s major science event. Once a year in summer, 125 Dresden research institutions open their doors between 6pm and 1am for the public to show what they do – with talks, presentations, and science shows in almost 100 locations. More than 30,000 visitors join this event Dresden-wide. The MPI-CBG has been part of this program since the beginning in 2003 and offers spectacular, fascinating experiments, a huge hands-on area for kids, talks, and stations with science presentations hosted by researchers from MPI-CBG labs. A fun summer night with loads of science!
We are not only educating kids, but believe in lifelong learning. This is why we also offer a seminar series for the Seniorenakademie Dresden every semester. This program is targeted at retired people in Dresden, who can enroll and hear lectures and seminars at the Technische Universität Dresden. We joined this program in 2003 and offer a number of talks in German by postdocs and predocs. Actually, we believe that this audience is the best audience! The older ladies and gentlemen are well prepared, ask really tricky questions and will not stop asking until they get what the speaker wanted to get across. So this is a perfect chance for postdocs and also for predocs to learn the basics of science communication by giving a talk in front of a non-scientific audience.
In the DIPP School Project “Science goes to school”, multinational teams of PhD students offer two-hour workshops with hands-on experiments at Dresden schools. After experimental work, PhD students are available for discussion on diverse subjects as science, career models or how foreigners experience living in Dresden. The workshops aim at students from 8th to 12th grade (14 to 18 years), they are being held in English.
In 2011, the DIPP School Project was awarded the “Saxon Integration Award”, which recognizes projects in Saxony that support tolerance and respect for people of different cultural, religious or ethnic backgrounds, and was recognized as “Hochschulperle” by the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft in January 2013.
The Retina Information Day was launched by the MPI-CBG together with the DFG-Center for Regenerative Therapies at the TU Dresden in 2009 and offers information on diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa, macular degeneration, or glaucoma. The event brings together basic researchers, clinical researchers and applications, as well as self-help groups and patients. Every year, about 150 visitors come to the Retina Information Day. Partners of the event are the Dresden University Clinics Carl Gustav Carus and PRO RETINA Deutschland.
Every year, 300 kids attending grade 3-12 in a Dresden school can visit a number of Dresden research institutions in the natural sciences, medicine, or art field and collect stamps for all stations in their junior PhD pass. After that, they have to give correct answers to a number of questions on the research they more deeply investigated. If they meet all these requirements, they will get their Junior PhD, together with a certificate and even a doctoral cap! The MPI-CBG is one of the major financial supporters of the program and offers talks, workshops, experiments, and guided tours for more than 100 kids every year.
The idea for a casual, informal event on science & society-related topics was born in 2004. The key element of this format is to discuss current and controversial issues with experts and regular people in a casual and relaxed atmosphere. The first Science Café featured “Genetically Modified Organisms” and took place in a pub. Compared to other Science & Society series, there is no panel, rather experts sit down with the guests and discuss views, ideas, and questions. People can have one-on-one discussions, and experts get a chance to hear what people are actually concerned about. The Science Café takes place at GrooveStation, a club in the vibrant Dresden-Neustadt district. On average, 50 people attend these meetings. A video clip is shown at the beginning of the Science Café – it introduces all experts and the topic and gives incentives for the discussion.
“2 im …” is a science communication format that introduces two personalities working in two science fields – what are their visions, their biographies, what is that drives them and motivates them? A chance to get to know the people who do science in a more private way. The show-like format includes games, a mini science slam, and live music or other performances by the scientists.
The format kicked-off as “Zwei im Turm” in February 2014, bringing together biologist Suzanne Eaton, research group leader at the MPI-CBG, and physicist Gianaurelio Cuniberti (Chair of Nanomaterials, TU Dresden) at the Ernemann Tower of Technische Sammlungen, a Dresden museum of science and technology. The second session was in June 2014 as “Zwei im Boot” on a vintage Elbe steamboat with Tony Hyman, MPI-CBG director, and Holger Brandes, rector of the University of Applied Sciences for Social Work, Education and Nursing in Dresden. "2 im Hotel" matched Brigitte Voit, director of the Leibniz Institute of Polymer Research Dresden with Wieland Huttner, director and group leader at the MPI-CBG, in the Maritim Hotel and International Congress Center Dresden.
The idea to use dramatic art to present current scientific questions of biology came up in 2012. To implement the idea, we teamed up with the theater junge generation (tjg), one of the largest children's and young people’s theatres in Germany, and with Cie. Freaks and Fremde, a Dresden-based theatre company. The MPI-CBG received generous support from the Klaus Tschira Foundation to implement the project.
In “Ziffer, Zelle, Zebrafisch”, a play for kids aged 6-10, two fruit flies, embodied by professional actresses of the tjg ensemble, are on a fact-finding tour trying to explore what scientists do and why they do what they do. The play is very interactive, the audience can get involved in a Q&A session, children can ask their questions and hear directly from the scientist about his work or science routine. In the original production, a scientist from the Institute (PhD student Vineeth Surendranath) was also part of the cast and the play was staged in a seminar room at the Institute.
In a second phase, the play was staged at the Theater Junge Generation and the part of the scientist was played by a professional actor. 2016 saw the last performance of "Ziffer, Zelle, Zebrafisch". After premiering in April 2013, the production had a run of more than 60 shows attended by almost 3,000 kids!