Introduction to Public Engagement
Equally as important as the integrated human practice has been for our team so has also communicating our project and the field of synthetic biology to our community. We have put a lot of effort into including all parts of our community in order to make an impact that will last. With our public engagement we wanted to spread the word of iGEM as a great opportunity for young researchers to develop and perform their own project in synthetic biology. We also wanted to inspire younger students and reach people that are not involved in the synthetic biology field. A big focus for us was to make the public aware of the increasing problem of antibiotic resistance and why our project is important in that aspect as well as aiding in wound care. With all of this taken into consideration, the resulting public engagement includes several different events targeting different ages, cultures and social and professional backgrounds.
Public Engagement - Reaching the Communities
Podcast "Attempting Science"
- "A podcast for nerds or not for nerds"
In order to be able to reach out to as many people as possible we decided to do another season of our podcast “Attempting Science”. During the summer and into the fall we have released a new episode every two weeks. In our podcast we have introduced the concept of iGEM and presented what our team has been doing and the purpose of our project. Therefore, we have given weekly updates on how our project is going in all aspects from the lab, to the model, to wiki and to human practice, giving listeners an opportunity to follow the development of our project. When describing and talking about our project we also raised the problem of antibiotic resistance and gave a background explaining why our work is important. In addition to our weekly updates we have discussed a new interesting scientific topic associated with synthetic biology every week. We have covered everything from DNA fingerprinting to epigenetics to biological warfare. An important aspect for us regarding the podcast is that we wanted it to suit everybody. As our “catchphrase” describes this podcast is made “for nerds, or not for nerds”. Meaning that we wanted to discuss fun and interesting topics on a level that would be entertaining for people both with and without a background in synthetic biology thereby, including more people. Follow the links to listen to our episodes of “Attempting Science” out on SoundCloud SoundCloud: Attempting Science and acast acast: Attempting Science.
Science Summer School
Inspiring the Future of Generation of Research
Our team had the opportunity to participate in a science summer school program for middle school students in 7th-8th grade. During one week at the beginning of the summer, three teammates from our human practice group acted as lab mentors helping the kids perform fun experiments in order to extract DNA from bananas. We also had the time to talk about iGEM, our project for this year and teach the young students more about DNA and what can be done with it. The conversations and lectures we had with the students resulted in a lot of fun and interesting discussions. At this event we could reach out to younger students and hopefully inspire them to become future scientists.
Spreading the word of iGEM and our project to the new students at Linköping University
With the start of a new school semester in September, many new students arrived on campus. Our team had the opportunity to participate in welcoming the new students of beginning the chemical- and technical biology program. On their way out to a campsite, we held a station where we played a game with the students where they guessed the salt concentration in five different solutions of water. During this time we were able to talk with them about iGEM and our project. Our hope was that they would be inspired to apply for next years team as well as making them aware of the iGEM concept.
Handing out pamphlets about iGEM and antibiotic resistance at the Linköping city festival
A problem that we have been focused on during our whole project is the increasing resistance of antibiotics. That is why we use antimicrobial peptides and enzymes, in our project, to eradicate bacteria rather than pumping wounds and the body with antibiotics. Many people are aware of the problem with antibiotic resistance but we wanted to continue to spread awareness and explain the underlying cause of antibiotic resistance as well as the consequences of overusing antibiotics. We therefore made pamphlets about antibiotic resistance also explaining our plan to decrease it and went down to the “Linköping City Festival” where we handed out the pamphlets. The festival is visited by approximately 300 000 festival goers. There we got to talk to people of different ages, genders, professions and cultural backgrounds about antibiotic resistance and our idea to stop the increase of resistant bacteria.
Below is the pamphlet that we distributed. It was in Swedish and touched subjects about how bacteria can become antibiotic resistant, how they develop it, consequences of antibiotic resistance and how you can help battle it. We also informed people on the back about our project and different ways one could follow us on social media.