In addition to the experiments, four DNA workshops for the students of the HBLA Klosterneuburg were developed by the Open Science Team and conducted in the Vienna Open Science Lab. The aim is to measure differences in microbial composition depending on season and soil. They analyse the "Who is Who" in the soil and are able to isolate high-quality DNA from their tea bag and soil samples in molecular biological hands-on experiments.
The DNA is sequenced and then the prokaryotic DNA is analysed by microbiological analysis. In order to determine all microorganisms involved in the decomposition, the genetic material of both organisms without cell nuclei, such as bacteria, and organisms with cell nuclei, such as fungi, was examined.
In addition to practical work in the laboratory, there will be another course on sequencing and bioinformatic analysis of sequenced DNA samples.
About 18 students of the partner school HBLA Klosterneuburg take part in each workshop one day in the Vienna Open Lab. They are divided into three groups corresponding to the soil types in which their tea bags were buried 3 months earlier (colluvisol, brown earth, auboden).
About one week before the respective DNA workshop, an introductory lesson on the methods and a practical demonstration on the handling of microbiological materials were held. The samples were prepared in the laboratory using polymerase chain reaction and gel electrophorosis.
Despite the long day, the young Citizen Scientists were very interested and focused on the protocol. Each step was accompanied by the tutors and for large topic blocks there was always an introduction before the practical work in which every step was explained, as you can see in the pictures below. The results were also discussed together after the evaluation. An Instagram Challenge was carried out to loosen up the situation. Pupils were invited to post photos of lab work on the TeaTime4Schools Instagram account.