Every year, the Center for Genomics and Systems Biology participates in the organization of Science Festivals across the UAE in collaboration with the NYUAD Research Outreach and Communication team. These festivals include the Abu Dhabi Science Festival, Think Science, Dubai, and Aspen Abu Dhabi Ideas Forum. The main objective of the Think Science Festival – Dubai is to guide the interest and passion for science in UAE youths (ages 15 to 24) toward embracing careers in research and innovation. The Abu Dhabi Science Festival is geared more toward children and families as the target audience, and invites them to explore various workshops and fun scientific activities.
At these multi-day events, we participate in explaining to the public basic topics in biology, with the catch-phrase "learning is fun". At our booth, young and old alike are invited to observe the living world, from the molecular to cellular and animal scales, using microscopes and DNA extraction techniques. Simple experiments such as microscopic observation of their own cheek cells (“Cell-fie”), mouth bacteria, and wild type vs. mutant C. elegans worms raise awareness about basic questions in biomedical research. Participants leave with photos of themselves and their cells, as well as necklaces and bracelets containing vials of DNA extracted from strawberries using household products. Another installation focused on Fruit fly: Drosophila life cycle and gave a closer look at their morphology using the microscope. Theses booths are always extremely popular, with hundreds of visitors passing through at each of these fairs.