Team:Brno Czech Republic/Communication



Our team considers public education and science popularization so important that they have created an entire educational sub-team. This enthusiastic group was tasked with developing educational materials for various audiences throughout the year.

As students, we feel that we have a unique opportunity to be a bridge between the professional scientific community and the general public. We still have a vivid memory of what it is like not to understand something, and at the same time we already have experience in how to explain something clearly.

But our role is not simply one of determination. We also feel a certain obligation to the society that allows us to study and research what we are interested in free of charge. And so we use different ways to explain to the public what we do in the laboratories or how this knowledge is turned into things that we use on a daily basis.

We all know that in the flood of data available to us every minute it is very easy to pick up misinformation. That's why we try to back up all our material with relevant sources and exercise our critical thinking skills. Because that's the best way to get the formulas across to those to whom we direct the information.

Our main goal is to inspire young people for science and to have an open dialogue with the public. We feel it's important that people have the opportunity to ask questions of the scientific community and that they receive answers they can understand.

Lecture neDELEJ z toho VEDU: GMO under the magnifying glass

The largest project within education is a science-popularization lecture focusing on genetically modified organisms (GMOs). We perceive that the topic of GMOs is often distorted in society by numerous mystifications, despite the fact that there is a relatively large amount of materialFigure 1.: Promotional graphics for public lecturesdealing with this issue in the Czech Republic specifically. They are not properly distributed or the public does not know about them at all. At the same time, however, these materials deal exclusively with GM crops and so it seems that GMOs are only applicable in agriculture.

A number of reasons have therefore led us to create our own materials that will introduce GMOs to the public on a much wider scale. And that is how the lecture GMO under the magnifying glass was created. The lecture is also accompanied in the title by the idiom neDELEJ z toho VEDU: which is a Czech idiom that can be translated into the English idiom It is not rocket science. But the capital letters are highlighted DELEJ (do) VEDU (science), as a call to verify information.

The lecture includes basic information about the biology of genetic modifications, their use in various industries, followed by a section on myths and mystifications that prevail around GMOs. The conclusion of the lecture is devoted to the legislation regulating GMOs and the future uses of GMOs that are on offer.

The lecture is suitable for the general public. We have deliberately designed it so that the biological concepts and processes we work with in the lecture are explained in a clear way right at the beginning. You don't need any special knowledge of biology, just a desire to learn something new. A discussion is included at the end of each lecture, which allows us to find out what people think and possibly clarify things that interest them.

Figure 2.: Lecture in the café for the general public

We gave the lecture in a café for the public, at a summer school and at four high schools mainly for final year students. In the future, the number of schools will surely expand, because after the public lecture we were approached by teachers themselves, who seemed to be very interested in us.

We have written extensive scripts for the lecture, which we provide freely for editing and distribution. The scripts describe more than 30 topics related to GMOs. They also contain many references to the sources from which we have drawn. They are sure to be a great help to anyone wishing to do outreach on GMOs. In the future, we expect to expand them to include other topics. For more information, please see the foreword.

The scripts for the lecture can be downloaded here

We have also created a presentation for the lecture, which we are also making freely available for use. A large number of the images were created by us and are thus free to use, but some of the images we have used are from a paid photo library, so you need to replace them with your own (they are always labelled).

Download the slideshow here in pptx.

Science popularization online courses

Figure 3.: Promotional graphics for a course on programmable cell death.We know that science popularisation needs to be engaging and easy to understand. And hand on heart, many science texts do not read well even to scientists themselves. However, everything has its place, scientific data flooded with stories would definitely only bring more chaos. So there is a need to simplify the information while being careful not to lose the original message or misinterpret it.

However, we're not afraid of challenges, so we took on raw scientific data and convoluted articles and started "translating" them into understandable language. It's not always easy, but we find it rewarding ourselves and are glad for the feedback from our readers. And voila, online courses were born.

Figure 4.: Promo graphics for CRISPR online courses on social mediaThe online courses are roughly 5-6 pages long texts about various interesting things from the world of biology. What's more, at the end of each course there is a short 10-question quiz that allows the reader to recap the most important information.

The creation of the online courses has built on our work last year. That is, 17 new online courses have been added to the previous 20 this year. To make it easier to find them, they were divided into three categories that also informed the reader about the difficulty of the text.

We learn about the reach of our courses mostly on social media. And a couple of times, we have been let known by high school teachers who have used our courses to explain the material to students.

Link to the courses on our website here

Example of online cours in english here

SynBio lessons for high school students

To create this lesson, we approached the Masaryk University BIOSKOP science teaching centre, which operates at our university. This center offers programs for schools in which students try out different kinds of experiments in chemistry, biochemistry or molecular biology. So our team prepared a four-hour lesson aimed at high school students. Those interested have the opportunity to become a synthetic biologist for a few hours and try to modify DNA for a specific purpose.

Figure 5.: Working diary

The lesson starts with a presentation by the lecturer on laboratory safety. Next, the participant learns the necessary information to understand what they will be doing. The explanation is followed by the practical part, which is already largely in the hands of the participant. The trainee follows the protocol.

Due to regulations in the Czech Republic, it is not possible to work directly with GMOs. Therefore, this lesson is mainly about working with restriction enzymes and subsequent electrophoresis. Nevertheless, students are introduced to DNA isolation, which would precede restriction digestion. Likewise, students learn about ligation and transformation, which in turn would follow the work.

In order to understand how SynBio works, tangram folding is included at the beginning of the lesson, where a single piece can be used in different patterns, just as different genes can be used in different organisms.At the end of the lesson, students will play a game where they have the opportunity to design their own gene and theoretically insert it into any organism. The lesson will then conclude with a debate.

We did not have time to teach the lesson before the wiki-freeze, but it will be included in the next semester.

All information and materials to conduct such a lesson can be downloaded here

The workbook for participants can be found here

Children's Day ORešin

For the second year in a row we participated in the Children's Day celebrations in Orešín. Many families with children and teenagersFigure 6.: The first moments after the start of the Children's Day celebrations at the science tent.participate in this event. It is always a challenge for us because one has to be prepared to explain what DNA is to both preschoolers and 15-year-olds. Nevertheless, we enjoyed the event very much, and judging by how crowded our booth was, so did the participants.

We had prepared a map for the participants, on which we explained that humans have cells in which DNA is hidden. We often compared the cells to lego bricks and the DNA to a blueprint, which we used to know where each brick belongs and what it should look like. When possible we let the participants answer the questions in their own words.

After a short introduction to DNA, we asked participants to do a simple experiment. Isolate your own DNA.

The procedure and explanation for the experiment can be downloaded here.

Figure 7.: Cyanotyping - DNA discovery.

Participants took away a microtube with DNA coated with proteins, so you could say they could see their DNA.

The popularity of our science station was helped by a cyanotype kit from Chemie a svetloⒸ, which we received in exchange for promotion. In short, it was paint that was applied to paper. If this paint was then exposed to light it changed its colour. This allowed the children to develop all sorts of pictures through the pre-prepared negatives.

Figure 8.: Field scientific and popularization laboratory.

Social networks are making the world go round, and content on them is spreading at lightning speed. It would certainly be a great shame not to take advantage of it. That's why we decided to share news about our achievements, not only in the lab and our project but also in synthetic biology, via them. Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn have become the main platforms for us. We hope that thanks to them, synthetic biology has become known to a larger part of the population, and they have also helped us in gaining material and financial support. From last year we have observed what is more suitable for which platform, where we have what type of followers and we have adapted the content of our posts to these aspects.

Social media


On Facebook, we have focused primarily on posts in Czech and Slovak, as the majority of our audience is made up of "home" followers. Every Tuesday and Thursday we brought our readers the SynBio press, news about our project, the latest courses, as well as invitations to various events and lectures.

#SynBio press #Redakce

Figure 9.: Example of a SynBio post.The SynBio press was focused on the successful projects of the IGEM competition. Our goal was not only to popularize them but also to get other people excited about the competition and also to introduce the public to different applications of synthetic biology. Every second Tuesday, we introduced a project from the previous years that seemed attractive to our readers through the SynBio press. We tried to describe it as clearly and concisely as possible, not only for the more professional public but also for the layman. Hence the structure of the Redaction contributions - the introduction was devoted to a simple and brief description, which lightly outlined the project. The second part was for those who were more interested in the project and wanted to look at it in a little more detail.

At this link you can find not only online courses, but also English versions of our SynBio press:

Figure 10.: Example of a project guide post.

#ProjectGuide #Projektový pruvodce

On Tuesdays, the contributions of the Redaction were alternated by the Project Guide. The guide brought news and details from our project written a bit more scientifically. Some posts were about our ideas, others about plans and progress. There was also a description of our activities in the lab and about our way to reach each success. We could say that the Project Guide was a regular progress report for our readers on the project work.

Figure 11.: Our Instagram wall graphic.


Since we have more English-speaking Instagram followers, we decided to make the posts bilingual - English in the first part of the post, Slovak or Czech in the second. These posts are shorter than the Facebook ones and each contains one or more images that relate to the topic.

The weekends belonged to our members. Every Saturday evening, someone from the team introduced herself or himself, wrote a few sentences, answered a few questions in the form of an interview, and didn't forget to attach his or her picture. Then, on Sundays, we shared the whole day of the member, who was introduced on Saturday, and his/her interests with our followers.

On Tuesdays, we posted various news on Instagram about what was happening and on Thursdays, a quiz about our latest courses awaited our readers.


We were also active on LinkedIn, on which we have added members of our team and released several updates about our project and blog in English. In the first two posts, we explained the role of bacterial microcompartments in our project, their ability to accumulate phosphorus, and the mechanism of their production. We also described the biofilm retention function and celebrated the ordering of constructs. Finally, we published a blog on the regulation of CRISPR in the EU.