Youth and Science program from La Pedrera Foundation in Barcelona puts together 15–16-year-old students with scientists from different fields and allow them to perform a small research project. Nuria Torras took part in this engagement activity and hosted Lola Dagà for 3 weeks at the Biomimetic systems for cell engineering group from the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC).
The Catalunya La Pedrera Foundation is a private and independent foundation, led by a board of trustees comprising experts in different fields, which focus their efforts on carrying out projects that have a positive impact on people’s quality of life. Among those projects we can find the Youth and Science program, oriented to 4th year of compulsory secondary school (ESO) students. The goal of this program is to encourage student’s scientific-technological vocations offering them the opportunity to experience research firsthand and the chance of fully cultivating their skills.
For three weeks this Summer, Nuria Torras, B-BRIGHTER researcher at the Biomimetic systems for cell engineering group lead by Elena Martinez at IBEC in Barcelona, hosted a student in the frame of this program. From the 26th of June to the 14th of July, Lola Dagà could experience what it is like to be a researcher. This 15 years old student had a small research project entitled: 3D bioprinting of biological models: manufacturing and case study.
Among others, Lola learnt how to use light-based 3D bioprinting to manufacture several tissue models, by combining hydrogels and different cell lines, and how to prepare inks for bioprinting. Part of the training consisted in studying the effects of the geometry and various printing parameters in the model to optimize the results. Additionally, she could culture the manufactured samples and monitor cell behaviours through immunofluorescence and microscopy techniques (basic and confocal optical microscopy).
In addition to the practical work, Lola also learnt what is a scientific paper and how to find them in the literature, and how to present and discuss her work and results with team members, for example during the weekly meetings. This was a great experience for Lola who opened her mind to scientific research and developed a critical thinking. These kinds of engagement activities are very valuable to stimulate scientific vocations.