Science Communication is one of the most important aspects of our projects because it allows us to not only spread awareness about our project, but also educate others on topics that few know about, such as biochemistry and synthetic biology. We believe that our efforts to educate the public benefited our community and even beyond it. Even though we could not meet fellow team members and those we were educating in person, we still found ways to be active in Science Communication with projects such as writing a book and holding a virtual camp about synthetic biology.
To best communicate core synthetic biology concepts, we published a 215-page book, Fundamentals of Synthetic Biology and Biochemistry: An introduction to general biology with an emphasis on Synthetic Biology and Biochemistry
Short Description of Full Book
Our book about the fundamentals of synthetic biology and biochemistry covered most related fields of biochemistry, such as molecular biology and forensics, applications of biochemistry, and even topics such as ethics and lab safety. Our goal of making the book was to educate the public with our research and knowledge, as not many know about current technologies and advancements in biology and chemistry, which is why we published the book to Amazon and made it easily accessible for everyone. We aligned the content of our book with NGSS, or the Next Generation Science Standards, keeping in mind their core principles such as crosscutting concepts.
Short Description of Abridged Versions with Translations/Audio
In order to make our book more accessible to different people, we translated an abridged version of our originally 215 page book to Farsi, Spanish, Telugu, Korean, and Chinese. We also made an audio recording of the book in English to make our content available to those who cannot read English or are blind, and more accessible to those who would prefer to listen to the book rather than read it.
Camp Curriculum Standards and Fundraising
Our camp materials and slideshows also aligned with NGSS Standards. Unfortunately, we couldn’t hold our camp in-person this summer due to the pandemic, so our camp was less hands-on than previous years, where we would teach the student’s lab techniques in our school’s lab. However, we still tried to make the camp as interactive as possible, making worksheets and activities for the participants to do instead of lecturing for the whole duration. The purpose of our camp was not only to fundraise for our CCA iGEM team but also to educate the youth of our community and potentially give them a passion for STEM topics. Our camp materials covered a broad range of biology topics such as synthetic biology, taxonomy, bioinformatics, and tools and techniques used in the lab.
Camp Survey Analysis
We had the students fill out a survey and short quiz before and after the camp, with 10 questions on each of the topics covered. We also asked them questions at the end about their general thoughts of the camp, such as how much they thought they learned and how much they paid attention. Although not all of the camp participants indicated that they were interested in pursuing a career in biology, most students did claim that they gained relevant and valuable information and also enjoyed the content and instructors’ methods of teaching. There was a positive correlation between how much the students paid attention and their test scores; those who were more attentive generally scored 80-100% on the post-camp survey.
Teacher's Manual/ Material
Additionally, we made an instructor's manual that served as the guideline for the camp we ran over the summer. It includes correspondence with the NGSS (State Science Standards), an ideal schedule, surveys, and important info. In order to make it interactive, we also implemented a system with participation points awarded for doing well in various quiz based games to increase student involvement.
We upload to our CCA iGEM Youtube channel with videos of our project and with recordings of our camp lectures about biology and bioinformatics. Since we understand that not everybody has the means to have access to learning about more advanced biology topics outside of school, we wanted to provide a free and accessible way of educating those who want to further their understanding of synthetic biology or those who want to start learning about it.
To spread awareness about our project, we gave presentations on our project and synthetic biology topics to both high schoolers at our school and middle schoolers in our area to raise awareness about biology topics, advertise our camp for more in-depth learning about synthetic biology topics, and get students enthusiastic about synthetic biology topics to encourage growth in STEM.
Interactive Mini Worksheet
Our book focuses on making complex biology concepts simpler and more accessible to younger elementary aged kids. It covers the A-Z basics of biology vocab, explaining each word in a way which children, with little prior biology knowledge, could grasp. Our goal was to introduce children to the field of biology and fuel their interests while still making the content interesting and attention grabbing with multiple pictures and visually appealing fonts.