It started out as a quick dash in to work after I picked Cameron up after camp. I still had to do the walk-through of the lab that I try to do every day before leaving for home, at least glancing at the equipment and spaces I’m responsible for, keeping an eye out for trouble and making sure the alarm systems are armed. And a student in the lab had offered to show Cameron his favourite piece of equipment up close and in action. So I brought him to the Centre and suited him up in the smallest clean lab coat I had available, and a pair of XS gloves.
Lucky kid, he got to join in a training session on the cryostat. For those not familiar with this machine, imagine a small-sized deli meat slicer with a super-sharp blade in a freezer. You can cut slices of tissue that are thinner than a hair. While the students who were being trained did do the bulk of the work, Cameron at least got to try his hand at slicing. She also showed him the gels she had run, and after we explained to him how they work to separate pieces of DNA by size (using the analogy of pushing a ping pong ball and a beach ball through a pool filled with jello – which moves more easily?), he went with her to take a picture of them using the geldoc. Then, on to check the alarms and equipment, with a few stops along the way. He listened to a grad student telling his supervisor about the cool experiment he was about to do. He asked to see the tadpoles I’d told him one lab had, and the people there happily showed him. And we stopped to peek in at another student working with nematodes on a fluorescence microscope, and Cameron was invited in to take a look. The light you see in the picture is green, but the worms’ throats glowed red.