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Public outreach

In our group we truly believe that it is important to communicate our science to others. Not only does it help to show people that all the new things we all enjoy are not just made in a supermarket (how many kids nowadays think that milk is made in cartons directly?). We also want to show that scientists are not some crazy people hidden away in some obscure lab (usually depicted in movies as villains, like Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz). Finally, it also forces us to organise our thoughts and ideas as clearly as possible to be able to show that our science is relevant. You can read more on the importance of outreach in this post here.

Since 2015, we regularly participate in university organised events such as the European Researcher’s Night or the Marine Science Fair.

We have named our workshop the “Secret life of the sediment” to show that in the “smelly” mud that does not look half as nice as clean beach sand live a wide variety of organisms that nobody notices but are very important for the proper functioning of coastal ecosystems as we know them. We also put emphasis on the role of microorganisms, especially bacteria (more “villains”), their looong history on the planet, and the benefits we get from them.

Some of the typical themes of our experiments are:

The diversity of microorganisms

The secret garden of benthic microalgae

Bioturbators: messing things up for your good

Winogradsky column: a small ecosystem in a bottle.

We have also devised a board or street game “Mud is life” to show to children the interactions between all the key players in an intertidal setting. If you did not know it, Sponge Bob Squarepants also was created an an outreach activity to teach kids about tidal pools. You can check and download our game here.

To get our message across, we often need the help of professional designers. In our lab, we have been collaborating for many years now with our ex-colleague Vanessa Gonzalez Ortiz