We decided early on that we wanted to engage as much as possible with the society and especially with our high school students and children. The youth are the upcoming in the field of science as well as the ones that will be most affected by the antibiotic resistance and plastic pollution. We believe that the more awareness of these problems the better - the same goes for general knowledge of synthetic biology and GMO’s.
We have raised awareness of iGEM, synthetic biology, bioethics and research ethics. The forms of engagement range from participating in official events at our university to a theme day both in the laboratory and in the classroom at high schools.
Every year in April the University of Southern Denmark (SDU) arranges a whole day filled with workshops, lectures and talks. This year the department of biochemistry and Molecular Biology had a big workshop area with the theme “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”: the probiotic bacteria, the pathogenic bacteria and the multiresistant bacteria. With our focus on antibiotic resistance we fitted right in. We spend the entire day discussing, explaining and teaching - we had so much fun and learned a lot both about how the concept of synthetic biology is perceived in the society, but also how we should communicate it.
High School talks
We have talked several times before an audience composed of high school students.
Our first attempt was the Danish participants for the International Biology Olympiad. They were the perfect audience, asking a lot of critical questions, which made us think twice about how we made our presentation. We altered to make it less focused on what iGEM is and more foused on the community aspect and the problem of antibiotic resistance.
KOLD College and Odense Tekniske Gymnasium
We also had the pleasure of presenting our project and a talk about bioethics for two technical high schools in Odense: Odense Technical High School (OTG) and KOLD College. At KOLD College we had an entire theme day where we helped the students in the laboratory and entertained them in between with details of our project. This included the preliminary presentation, which we will bring to Boston and theory about the experiments they had to do in the laboratory. We also had our movie, which explains our project with us as well as a collective brainstorm for the prospects of our project.
Us at KOLD college, teaching their students.
The two classes at OTG.
Academy for Talented Youth
At the end of the summer we had the opportunity to be a part of another event at the university, as SDU was visited by the Academy for Talented Youth. We presented our project and had an extra focus on bioethics - and we had a really good discussion with them. We then supervised them in the laboratory.
As a good way of getting more feedback we held a presentation at Symposion - a philosophical association at SDU. The audience were composed of professors in philosophy, students from philosophy and other students who found it interesting. There were an almost hour long discussion with lots of good constructive critique and advices for our human practices. Their ideas and arguments had a big influence on our writings on bioethics and philosophy of science. They gave us ideas to other forms of arguments in bioethics, e.g. the religious arguments. They also gave us the idea of "Track-record" for a way of handeling the Precautionary Principle.
In September we had the amazing opportunity to meet with the previously iGEM teams from SDU. We held our presentation and they gave so much feedback that it filled 3 pages in notes! The feedback was a very welcomed gift that we used for adjusting our presentation. Otherwise than that, it was a lot of fun meeting the old teams and hearing their pointers on our project. They also gave us a little pep talk, which we appreciated!
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
The day before we left for Boston we had the opportunity to present our project for the whole Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BMB). This event was our rehearsel of the presentation, which we will bring with us in Boston. We are hoping that our presentation will inspire other students to apply for next year's iGEM competition.
SDU made an informational video about us and our project, which got featured at their facebook page and on youtube. It was so much fun recording it and we had a strict focus on showing a sense of humor and making our project understandable and relatable to the public. Hopefully this video will inspire other students to apply for next year’s iGEM team at SDU.
We also made our own video, which can be seen at the Home chapter. We made the video a part of our presentation after showing it to the high schools we visited. They thought it was a great way of explaining our project in a short time. We therefore use it both as a different way of explaining as well as a resumé of our presentation.