Team:MichiganState/Public Engagement

Public Engagement

Public Forum

In an effort to communicate about our project with the general public of Lansing, we planned a public forum focused on educating attendees about synthetic biology, our project, and controversy over genetically modified organisms (GMOs). We created a slideshow detailing these topics and then held a question-and-answer session with a panel of five MSU professors specializing in philosophy, plant biology, biochemistry/molecular biology, agriculture, and computational biology. These professors graciously agreed to appear on our panel as unpaid volunteers.

Garden 25th Birthday Bash

The MSU Horticulture Gardens hosted a celebration for its 25th birthday on July 14, 2018 from 10 am - 12 pm, during which visitors went on a tour of the gardens and visited booths set up throughout the gardens. Our team set up a booth at the gardens for this event. At our booth, we had a banner with our team logo on it, a trifold poster explaining synthetic biology and our project, brochures explaining the goals of our project (which were intended for older children and adults), and a simple experiment (which was intended for younger children). The experiment consisted of learning simple pipetting skills and predicting liquid quantities. The event staff predicted that over 200 people visited the gardens that day and we had 100 visitors to our booth, the majority of which were children ages 3 to 9 and their parents. This event was unique in that it allowed us to educate both children and their parents about synthetic biology in a fun and engaging way.

Garden Plot

We planted ten Brachypodium plants in the MSU Horticulture Gardens. They were accompanied by a sign that gave brief explanation of our project goals. We also included our team’s social media (Facebook and Instagram) usernames. The plants and sign were in the gardens from June to October. Our hope was that visitors to the gardens would learn a little bit about synthetic biology and want to learn more.

Greater Lansing Food Bank

The problems that our project addresses, such as drought and soil salinization, have a negative affect on agriculture. The resulting low crop yields cause many people to go hungry every year, and if climate change magnifies these problems, we could be facing a major food shortage. We decided to give back to those in our community who are already dealing with hunger by volunteering at a local food bank. Five team members sorted radishes for the food bank for four hours to show our dedication to ending hunger around the world.

News Article

Our team and an event reached our campus newspaper, The State News, in a press release here.

Social Media

An important part of our marketing plan was using social media. The three social media platforms that we used consistently were Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. For Facebook, we made a team page where we introduced the team members, posted updates about the lab work and our human practices, and invited people to our outreach events. Instagram and Twitter were used similarly to Facebook. Links to our social media can be found at the bottom of this page, in the footer.