RIKEN Open Days Welcome Visitors Back Onsite
Nov. 15, 2022
The laboratories at RIKEN BDR based in Yokohama, Kobe and Osaka, organized a range of programs for the annual RIKEN Open Day held at the RIKEN Yokohama Campus on Saturday, October 22, and the RIKEN Kobe Campus on Saturday, October 29. For both campuses, this year marks the first time in three years since the Covid pandemic that the general public were given an opportunity to visit the RIKEN premises, albeit in limited numbers. There were also a number of virtual contents available on the event websites, such as virtual tours, games, and live-streamed lectures, for people who were unable to take part in the onsite programs to enjoy.
RIKEN Yokohama Campus Open Day
For the RIKEN Yokohama Campus Open Day, which is co-organized with the neighboring Yokohama City University, the BDR laboratories located at the Yokohama campus organized a combined tour of the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Facility and the Cryo-electron Microscopy (Cryo-EM) Facility geared for junior high, high school, university and graduate school students, and also a hands-on program for elementary school kids observing different properties of proteins. The participants of the combined tour of the NMR Facility and Cryo-EM Facility were first given an introduction to proteins and their function and how their structures are studied using NMR spectroscopy and cryo-EM systems before visiting each of the NMR and Cryo-EM facility in turn. The students participating in the tours stood in awe in front of the large NMR and cryo-EM instruments and eagerly asked questions to the BDR researchers on hand who explained how these state-of-the-art instruments were being used to analyze protein structures. For the hands-on program, the kids were guided by BDR researchers through a process to make green fluorescent protein (GFP) glow and fade by a treating with an acid, base, heat or detergent. In the second half of the program, they were shown how sugars can be used as a source of energy in a biofuel cell developed by BDR researchers that uses enzymes to oxidize sugars which produces electricity to operate a small rotating fan. Several students from the nearby Yokohama Science Frontier High School served as volunteer support staff accompanying the tours and assisting with the hands-on program.
RIKEN Open Day in Kobe
The RIKEN Open Day in Kobe was held primarily at the Developmental Biology Buildings of BDR as well as the at the building housing the Fugaku supercomputer at RIKEN Center for Computational Science (R-CCS). The BDR labs based at the Kobe and Osaka Campuses organized a range of programs from laboratory tours, experience-based programs, poster exhibits and lectures for visitors to enjoy during their time at the BDR. Laboratory tours included a guided tour of the large-scale molecular imaging facility, of a laboratory involved in the development of high-performance optical microscopy systems, a laboratory studying the mechanisms involved in chromosome segregation in oocytes, and a laboratory investigating blood vessel development using zebrafish. BDR researchers working in those laboratories treated participants to a behind-the-scenes look at where the actual research takes place, as well as looking at samples, instruments, and equipment used by the respective laboratories. For the experience-based programs, one offered guests the opportunity to operate a scanning electron microscope to capture images of samples, while in another program, participants got a close-up look at mosquitos to learn about mosquito behavior through actual demonstrations using heat sources and insect repellent, as well as examined live samples of mosquito eggs and larvae. There were nine poster exhibits prepared by BDR laboratories with BDR researchers on hand to explain their research and answer questions from the visitors. Three researchers from BDR and one researcher from R-CCS gave a short lecture on their work and interests, which was also streamed online. Visitors also had the opportunity to create a unique science-themed button badge featuring images prepared by laboratories participating in the poster exhibits.