Nearly one hundred researchers from the seven IMDEA institutes -Water, Food, Energy, Materials, Nanoscience, Networks and Software- organized more than twenty scientific workshops at the Fair Madrid por la Ciencia y la Innovación, organized by the Fundación para el Conocimiento madrimasd, from Thursday 28th to Sunday 31st March, in Pavilion 5 of IFEMA.
The thematic of these workshops was very diverse, but they all had a common point: they were very simple, prepared so that the youngest public and without special scientific knowledge could understand them and have fun with them. They also had a common aim: to raise interest in science.
The IMDEA Water Institute organized three workshops in which the public might know how some electroactive microorganisms work in the purification of wastewater; how can water quality be evaluated in real time; or what biological indicators of ecological status of rivers can be used. An important part of the workshop was a model in which the reality of a process of collection-purification-reuse of water could be observed on a small scale.
Siri, what can I have for lunch, today? Ask your genes was the activity programmed by IMDEA Food. In this activity, researchers at the Institute helped the public discover how their genetics can contribute to making some nutrients more beneficial than others. Knowing our genetic characteristics can help us to better choose the food we eat and thanks to the researchers of IMDEA Food and their genetic tests or interactive screens that told you if your diet was good or… could be better, at the Fair we discovered how to do it!
Meanwhile, IMDEA Energy Institute researchers operated a Stirling engine using the temperature difference between two surfaces without using any type of fuel. They also produced a very simple battery, capable of illuminating a light bulb, with copper and zinc bars inserted in a lemon, which could be "made bigger" if the ends of the conductor were joined by the hands of the budding scientist who listened to the explanations of the IMDEA researchers!
IMDEA Materials researchers invited us to Develop new materials, design the future workshop in which they will carry out experiments in which they will demonstrate the importance of some new materials. Thus, we were able to see the window of an airplane (from Airbus) in whose manufacture a new material produced in the Institute has been used, which is flexible, resistant, and allows the storage of energy. We also observed how to manufacture new fire-resistant materials by adding certain substances to already known materials, new materials that are currently used in construction to make our houses safer.
Nanoscience and Nanotechnology: great ideas for small worlds is the suggestive title that includes the activities that the IMDEA Nanoscience Institute carried out at the Madrid por la Ciencia y la Innovación. Even children could observe how a "magic crystal" would break white light into lights of many colours; or they could take their own "piece of graphene" at home, manufactured with cellophane from the pencil´s mine.
The electromagnetic spectrum: from FM radio to the Internet of Things was the participatory demo that IMDEA Networks Institute researchers used to explain the audience the operation of the electromagnetic spectrum. The public observed what happens when a radio is turned on and our voice travels through the airwaves to the listeners, or the real-time flights over Spain at that precise moment, and they could experience how wireless networks work in virtual reality.
The software is behind ... almost everything surrounding us in our daily lives. In the activities that researchers from the IMDEA Software Institute organized at the Madrid por la Ciencia y la Innovación they explained their contribution to the development of all this software at the Madrid por la Ciencia y la Innovación. And they did it with decks of cards, a typewriter prepared for the hands of little children, or some Towers of Hanoi that tested the expertise and patience of more than one.
The main conclusion of IMDEA Institutes’ participation in the Madrid por la Ciencia y la Innovación is that with science and innovation we all win, that working with science and innovation is at everyone's reach, it is interesting and has many professional opportunities. It is worth the effort. Being a physicist, mathematician, engineer,... you can work in areas as diverse as those covered by IMDEA institutes.
The public seemed to enjoy the activities, and the participating researchers for sure enjoyed them as well. They were very pleased to have left their "laboratories" to speak with a very different audience than the audience they are used to in their congresses, an audience that showed great interest and did not stop asking questions, many of them for which there is still no response. With their workshops, the researchers at the IMDEA Institutes wanted to encourage everyone to help them findings those answers. This is the aim of researching and innovating