Team:Unesp Brazil/Public Engagement

iGEM Unesp Brazil

Education and Public Engagement

When we look throughout the history of science, it may seem that it has always been dominated by men. Although several women have made substantials discoveries and inventions, gender inequality has caused these women not to receive the deserved recognition and have their work overshadowed by men.

This devaluation, even hidden, still exists and the consequences affect academic and non-academic society, decreasing women representation in prestigious positions. Aiming to have women’s work from all over the world recognized and widely disseminated, we created the project “Women in Science” to make non-academic society conscious about this disparity, the importance to fight for more gender equality in science and all fields.

In order to change the paradigms of young people in the basic stage of education, our actions were developed at the elementary school "EMEF do Campo Prof. Hermínio Pagotto" at Bela Vista Settlement in the countryside of Araraquara-SP. We had meetings with the students over two months, and our activities were focused on showing the various areas of science, elucidation of women's contributions to science, gender inequality within and outside the scientific field, female empowerment and encouragement to continue the studies. In these activities, we carried out group dynamics, debates and a historical survey of the role of women in science and technology, so that in the end, we could educate and encourage both girls and boys to have education as a tool for life change and realization of their dreams.

"EMEF do Campo Prof. Hermínio Pagotto"

Bela Vista Settlement
In Brazil, the federal government promotes social actions aimed at agrarian reform to promote sustainable agriculture and reducing social inequalities by creating rural settlements. A rural settlement consists of a vast expanse of formerly unproductive lands, which are divided equally among needy families. These families work in the field to survive and to ensure the increase in food production. The Settlement Bela Vista was founded in 1988 and is located approx. 30 min away from Araraquara. The inhabitants have a basic health unit, a nursery school, and a primary school.


At the school, activities were developed over four meetings in two months. In these meetings we did group dynamics, discussion and create a chronological line of the feminine contribution to the science.

1st Class: Presentation of the team and "What is Science?"
In this class, the team members and our project were presented, and the students answered a simple questionnaire about their interests. The goal was to establish the first contact with the teenagers and introduce the theme of science, asking them about what they considered to be science. From the assumption that science is in all that surrounds us, there have been several discussions in the human, mathematics and biological areas.

2nd Class: The principle of what it is to be a scientist and what can be done through science
This meeting was devoted to debates about what it is to be a scientist and what can be done through it, since the concept of science was exposed previously. For this, two dynamics were performed: In the first, the students had to associate some personalities with possible professions, based only on images. In the second one, they had to develop scientific thinking while working at the activity "Lost on the Moon" by NASA (you can find it here).
In this way, it was possible to show that science does not restrict to a gender, skin color or social class and that the process of solving a problem involves several stages of questioning, investigation, and analysis of possibilities.

3rd Class: Inequality of gender in society and historical aspects
At the end of the second class, teenagers were able to realize science is open and democratic for all those who wish to do it. But then, why are there so many unfamiliar female personalities? To answer this question, the activities of this class were based on presenting the inequalities between the genres throughout history, contextualizing with the social reasons why this occurred during the periods.

4th Class: Women in Science nowadays and students engagement in science
In the last meeting, teenagers had more contact with female scientists from all around the world playing with our Top Trumps "Women in Science" version. Together, we built a timeline throughout history showing that has always been a massive contribution from women in discoveries and researches. Also, teenagers have evaluated our classes and how the project impacted their lives.

Top Trumps Women in Science

To emphasize the content of lessons at school, our team developed the card game “Top Trumps Women in Science”, adapted from the famous game Top Trumps (in Brazil, Super Trunfo). The goal of “Top Trumps Women in Science” is to educate children and teenagers about female scientists and spread their work in a fun and interactive way.

In this game, 32 cards are distributed among 4 participants, who must save them in the sequence they have received, so that only one card is available for individual viewing. The cards contain a brief description of women who have revolutionized the scientific and social environment throughout history. These women received scores ranging from 1 to 10, according to the categories "recognition", "awards", "impact" and "inventions/discoveries". After participants receive the cards, they select a category so that others can compare which card is the most powerful. The winning participant receives the cards from his opponents and puts them at the end of his card sequence. The winner will be the one that gets all the cards from his opponents.

Here you can find the cards and the rules to play Top Trumps Women in Science, feel free to print the cards and use them! We hope that this could be a useful tool to educate and engage people in science, if you have any feedback about the game and want to help us improve it, please write us:

IMPORTANT! The classification of women in each category was only for didactic and educational purposes, each and every one of them are awesome scientists and have done great contributions to science.

Please, to see the results and learn about the impact of our project, go to the Results page.

UNESP visitation

When we tried to talk with the students about our experiences in College, we realized that most of them didn't know how the public higher education works and could not understand some biology subjects. Considering this, we organized a visit from the students in our campus, to approach our realities and show a little bit of the science we do every day. In this day, the students did some experiments, like strawberry DNA extraction, cell observation in microscopy and plating of samples from the environment, by doing this, they could associate the abstracts concepts with something visual. Besides, we did a tour through the labs and the campus and explained to them about the courses in our College and how to apply to them.

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Talks and public outreach

I Symposium of Bioprocess and Biotechnology Engineering - Unesp Botucatu

Our team was invited to talk about iGEM in the I Symposium of Bioprocess and Biotechnology Engineering in Botucatu, São Paulo. First, we did an introduction about synthetic biology, using as an example our iGEM 2017’ Insubiota project. Then, we discussed the importance of synthetic biology and the role of bioprocess and biotechnology in it. With that, we tried to motivate the presents to get interested in synthetic biology and in the future to build a team for the competition. In fact, we are already making plans for the future to create a multi-campi Unesp team with students from Botucatu!


We were invited for the “Núcleo’18” event, the fourth edition from the National Meeting of Biotechnology Students at the Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCAR). In this experience, the students had an overview of synthetic biology, then we could present our Insubiota project for almost 100 people. Furthermore, we shared our trajectory to achieve the Giant Jamboree in 2017, hoping to inspire other students to follow this path.

Our team members Mariana, Natália and Paulo with the members of Synthetic Biology Study Group from UFSCAR at Núcleo'18.

Nucleo'18 Hackaton

Our team members Nathan, Patrick, and Victor were invited to participate in BioHack, a marathon of synthetic biology in “Núcleo’18” event. We mentored teams formed by people with none previous experience in the subject. We help them to create a project, and a business model to solve a real-world problem.

The BioHack team!

II Symposium of Biotechnology - Federal University of Rio de Janeiro

Our team member Nathan gave a talk at the II Symposium of Biotechnology at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) about innovation and entrepreneurship with synthetic biology. We talked about startups and companies that are creating new products with synthetic biology, the challenges and how to start to innovate and entrepreneur with synthetic biology. Our goal was to inspire new people to engage in the synbio revolution and create new and awesome things with it.

2018 Campus Party

The team members Nathan and Patrick were invited to participate in Campus Party 2018, in São Paulo. We did a lecture on how to program life using synthetic biology. We introduced the subject to the participants, who had none previous knowledge about the subject. As a result, we did an interactive activity to build genetic circuits of previous iGEM teams.

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Nunca Vi Um Cientista

We were invited by “Nunca vi um Cientista”, literally translated as “I have never seen a scientist”, a Brazilian Facebook page that discuss and spreads science in a easy and dynamic way, to talk about the difficulties to do science in Brazil, our participation at the Gigant Jamboree in 2017, our inscription in 2018, and being the first team from Unesp, one of the biggest Universities in Brazil.

Globo, EPTV

EPTV is a local branch of TV Globo, one of the biggest TV channels in Brazil. We contact them and fortunately arranged an interview to talk about the impact of our participation in iGEM 2017, the Insubiota project, our 2018 project for iGEM and our online crowdfunding. The interview was published online and on TV as well.

TV Câmara

We arranged an interview with the municipal council of Araraquara, they came to our university and there we had the opportunity to show our work, to talk about the 2017 and 2018 project, how students can do great discoveries and our crowdfunding. The interview with all members was released on their TV channel, and after that, we were invited to talk on their radio channel.

Gil Vicente

Gil Vicente is a Unicamp student writing his doctoral about biohacking and DIY in sciences and open science, he invited us to talk about science, how iGEM is a DIY way of making science and the benefits to breaking the usual way of learning.

Discovery Science

Discovery Science is producing a new TV series and invited Nathan Ribeiro, a member of 2017 and 2018 team of iGEM Unesp Brazil, for an interview about open science, biohacking and synthetic biology. It will be available soon on their channel and website.

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School of Pharmaceutical Sciences | Chemistry Institute


School of Pharmaceutical Sciences
São Paulo State University (UNESP)
Rodovia Araraquara Jaú, Km 01 - s/n
Campos Ville
Araraquara, São Paulo, Brazil