The importance of learning has been a priority for our project from the beginning. From start, our project has been focused on involving the public in different ways in order to raise public awareness of our project and Synthetic Biology in general. At the beginning of our project, we got the impression that public awareness about protein folding and chaperones seems to be somewhat sparse. This is something we wanted to change.
By focusing on public engagement we wanted to involve society and enlighten people about the field of our project. Through this, in combination with education, which you can read more about below “Human Practice”, we attempted to improve the awareness concerning the field of our research.
Podcast: Attempting Science
Podcasts have the potential to reach a large group of people and can be about virtually anything one finds interesting or funny. We thought this was a good way to reach out to a larger audience with our project. The result was a podcast called “Attempting Science” that has been updated on a regular basis throughout our project.
In this podcast, we talked about our project, in order to get a slightly broader range of subjects we also talked about other interesting subjects relating to our fields of study and synthetic biology. After the Nordic iGEM conference, we also invited the iGEM team from Chalmers University to participate. In this episode, we talked about their project and about the problems we have been facing along the way. Through this collaboration we also reached a broader audience, since Team Chalmers Gothenburg linked that episode on their wiki.
By posting our episodes on SoundCloud anyone could listen to them. We also posted about our podcast on our social media accounts (Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter) to reach a greater number of listeners. This let us achieve one of our goals, to find a fun way to let people learn more about synthetic biology and to reach out with our project. It is available on our Youtube and Soundcloud!
Engineers Without Borders Sweden
Engineers Without Borders Sweden is an organisation that is trying to solve problems linked to sustainable development around the world by implementing their engineering expertise.
During the spring this year Engineers Without Borders in Linköping hosted a campus tour for secondary school students. The tour aimed at inspiring young students to pursue a higher education, to show what you can do during and after your studies. As this fitted well with our goal to reach out with our project we got to be a part of this tour. We held a short introduction to the field of synthetic biology and our project, focusing on the diversity of the field.
The Summer Week - Sommarveckan
Another way for us to reach out to the public and to inspire people to become more interested in Synthetic Biology was to participate in an event called "Sommarveckan". Sommarveckan is an annual event organised by Linköping University. During this event, secondary school students get to come to the university for a couple of days to try out scientific experiments and learn about the mechanisms connected to the experiments they perform.
Leading up to the event we planned an experiment themed "Discovering chemistry".
This resulted in a lab where 150 students got to extract DNA from a kiwi fruit. After the experiments, we talked about what one does with the DNA after it has been extracted. Based on what the students had done in the lab, we then supervised a discussion on Synthetic Biology and showed what we were doing in our project.
TED-events are incredibly popular and it is a great way of spreading a message worldwide. TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. According to us in LiU iGEM, this was a way to both inform and engage the public. When we got invited we could not possibly say no. The TEDx-event was free for everyone and it will also be available online soon for anyone to watch. By consistently promoting the event on social media such as Facebook and Instagram we wanted to reach as many as possible. This also led to great results in the matter of number of people attending the event. About 70 people were in the audience during the actual event and a video will be uploaded to TEDx:s official YouTube channel that has almost 11,600,000 subscribers and with that, hopefully, reach many more.
By doing a TEDx-talk we wanted to reach further and involve more people. We wanted to engage people in Linkoping and Sweden, as well as people from all around the world. Our best possible way of doing so was through TEDx, because through TEDx, anyone and everyone could get engaged and involved.