Communicating the world of science and synthetic biology to the public is often difficult due to differences in views, which may result in information not being well received or understood by the public. This misunderstanding has led to the development of a communication gap between researchers and the public, which means that public engagement is a crucial element for scientists to take into account. This is why we have worked on entertaining and engaging ways to close this communication gap through our outreach activities. We wanted to inform the public on the variety of applications of synthetic biology, our project, and the world of science. The initiation of these dialogues allows us to close the communication gap between us and those with different backgrounds and opinions.
Team members presented lectures at Macquarie University’s Open Day to prospective new Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Medical Science students. These lectures introduced basic concepts of synthetic biology, the iGEM competition and our project to the audience.
This year the 2018 UNSW iGEM team hosted a Synthetic Biology Symposium in the “Challenges in Australian Innovation Landscape for Synthetic Biology” in which we participated. In this symposium, the UNSW iGEM team, Macquarie iGEM and USYD biomod team showcased their projects and the world of synthetic biology to the science community at UNSW. With esteemed guests such as Dr Hugh Goold, Carl Stubbings, Matthew Kearnes and Dr. Dominic Glover, we were able to inform and educate the public on our project, as well as network with the other teams and industry professionals. Additionally the event was uploaded to YouTube, reaching members of the public who could not attend the symposium.
This year Team Macquarie decided to go with a quirky, fun way to present synthetic biology and the world of science to the public by adopting our talented, poetic Team member, the “Chlorofella”, to write and release “The Chlorofella Chronicles”. These chronicles were science themed poetry released weekly on our social media. Our audience was internationally widespread, from Australia to countries such as Austria in Europe. This platform allowed us to close the communication gap in a unique and quirky way between the public and scientists, through the educating of scientific techniques and basic concepts of science and synthetic biology. “The Chlorofella Chronicles” topics ranged from science safety, to iGEM projects and the transformation of cells, thus providing a fun way of engaging and educating the public on science and iGEM.