“We’ll need a positive control for this one”, Jan* calls out. “Yes, Professor”, laughs Claudia Jacob, who supervises the MDC Research Camp – Adventure Knowledge 2014 this afternoon. The children were very attentive during the past few days while conducting their first experiments at the Life Science Learning Laboratory. Field research was on the agenda. They took water samples from the castle moat and the river Panke in Buch containing all sorts of critters, for example, dragonfly larvae and even a leech.
Equipped with white coats and protective goggles, the children begin their analysis and apply water samples to agar plates. “These look a bit like gummy bears or jelly”, explains biologist Claudia Jacob. Together with chemist Dr. Bärbel Görhardt, who is part of the project group “MDC Research Camp”, and biotechnologist Ulrike Mittmann, Jacob makes sure that each day of that week provides a new way of looking at science. The agenda includes excursions to the technological museum, the Alba recycling plant, the Evangelische Lungenklinik – a special hospital for diseases of the chest and lungs – and, of course, to the great outdoors.
The field researchers are between 11 and 14 years of age and all are children of MDC employees; the holiday camp is organized each year specifically for them. They collect samples, measure the flow rate and pH-value of the water and cannot refrain from a refreshing dip before donning their white coats at the laboratory. Various stations are set up to illustrate the diversity of such water tests; in groups of two the children conduct microbiological and chemical analyses. For instance, the “aquarium case” helps to ascertain minerals and salts. The fully equipped laboratory exudes an atmosphere of curiosity, coziness and overall encouragement towards discussion. For some children this is their first experience in a laboratory. Others proudly tell about their experience from last summer’s research camp. In summary: “It’s fun”, says Jan and Leah happily adds: “You find new friends here.”
*All children’s names changed