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The 14th Bonn Science Night took place on May 16 and 17 on Münsterplatz and Mülheimerplatz in the city center under the motto “Freigeist”. A small “tent city” was set up in which numerous research and science institutions from the Bonn-Rhein-Sieg region and the Ahrweiler district presented their cutting-edge research in the form of display boards, hands-on activities, exhibits and experiments. The exhibitors presented a wide range of topics to the interested public, from neuroscience, animal research and climate research to space and satellite research, artificial intelligence and computer science. Despite the bad weather, visitors of all ages showed great interest in the Bonn Science Night and sought information from the exhibitors.

Die endgültigen Ergebnisse unserer Mitmach-Umfrage deuten darauf hin, dass sich unsere Gäste vor Ort eher wenig oder gar nicht informiert fühlen.
The final results of our participatory survey indicate that our local guests tend to feel little or not at all informed.
© Burak Bali | 3R-Kompetenznetzwerk NRW

As the 3R Competence Network NRW, we invited visitors to our exhibition tent with the question “How well informed are you about animal research and alternative methods?”. Most participants answered the question with either “Not well informed” or “I don't know”, thus opening up the opportunity for further dialog. After a brief introduction to laboratory animal statistics in Germany, laboratory animal species and research areas, guests were introduced to the 3Rs principle, the relevant methods and how it reconciles the freedom of science with animal welfare. We discussed the power and further potential of human cell organoids and organ-on-a-chip systems as an alternative technology. Two different organ-on-a-chip models for adipose and tumor tissue were also examined. A roadmap with PREPARE and ARRIVE guidelines was introduced as a method for reduction. To illustrate the concept of refinement, a typical laboratory cage for mice with enrichment and handling objects was also shown. Finally, visitors who wanted a little challenge could test their newly acquired knowledge at our booth in a 10-question quiz about animal experiments.

During the morning hours on both exhibition days, a special school program was also held for pupils of different ages and school types from the region. Several school groups visited our tent to ask their questions about biomedical animal experiments and their alternatives. Like many visitors, the first thing the pupils had in mind when asked about animal studies was the testing of cosmetic products on animals. However, the testing and sale of cosmetics that have been tested on animals has been banned in the EU since 2013. Nevertheless, they are well aware of the use of laboratory animals for drug and therapy development. 

Im Rahmen des BoWiNa 2024-Programms besuchten auch Schulgruppen unser Zelt und stellten ihre Fragen zu Tierforschung, Tierschutz und dem 3R-Prinzip.
As part of the BoWiNa 2024 program, school groups also visited our tent and asked their questions about animal research, animal welfare and the 3R principle.
© Burak Bali | 3R-Kompetenznetzwerk NRW

On the afternoon of the exhibition day, we were invited to an official reception in Bonn's Old Town Hall together with the other exhibitors of the Bonn Science Night. After a short speech by Deputy Mayor Nicole Unterseh, we had the opportunity to network and exchange ideas with representatives of the City of Bonn, the event organization team and the other exhibitors over coffee and cake.  This was followed by a press tour of the Science Night tent city with representatives of the City of Bonn. We were very pleased that the group also visited the tent of the 3R Competence Network NRW and that we were able to inform them about the research on 3R methods and the role of the network.

Die stellvertretende Bürgermeisterin Frau Nicole Unterseh hält eine Ansprache während des Empfangs im Alten Rathaus von Bonn.
Deputy Mayor Nicole Unterseh gives a speech during the reception in Bonn's Old Town Hall.
@ Michael To Vinh | 3R-Kompetenznetzwerk NRW
Representatives of the City of Bonn visited our stand to find out more about the 3Rs.
Representatives of the City of Bonn visited our stand to find out more about the 3Rs.
© Burak Bali | 3R-Kompetenznetzwerk NRW

We would like to take this opportunity to thank the animal welfare officers at the University of Bonn, Prof. Odermatt's research group and the Dean's Office of the Faculty of Medicine for their openness and support in the preparations and at the stand in the tent city of the Bonn Science Night.

We would also like to thank the information initiative “ Tierversuche verstehen”, the 3R Center Tübingen, the Cluster of Excellence ImmunoSensation2 and the LIMES Institute for providing the exhibition materials.  We would also like to thank the University Communications Office for their support. (We are also grateful to our neighbors in the tent city, especially the DZNE Bonn and the MPI for Neurobiology of Behavior - Caesar, for the collegial atmosphere and the scientific exchange). Finally, we would like to thank the city of Bonn and the organizers of the 14th Bonn Science Night for making the scientific dialogue with the people of Bonn possible.