Education & Public Engagement
Our Goal of Educating and Communicating
As an iGEM team, we wanted to show the wonderful aspects of synthetic biology and show how it can better help the world with its applications. In terms of our education & communication fulfillment, we focused on the public engagement of our target audiences and tried to expose new scientific knowledge. We focused our education of synthetic biology efforts on local schools and STEM-related workshops. We focused on informing students about the real-world application and components of synthetic biology. We are aware of the importance of sharing aspects of this field with others. We made an effort to also share our project and its real-world application. The team has engaged with our target audience through a self-made card game, informative interview sessions, STEM workshops, and more. The team hopes that we have made an impact by informing others of the great importance of synthetic biology and our project. We continue to make efforts to inspire our community about our ChiSPY project and how it can make a great impact to save amphibians.
Molecular Cloud Interview
The Lubbock_TTU had the privilege to have an interview session about our project. The point of the interview was to share the aspects of our ChiSPY biosensor project through science communication. MolecularCloud is a scientific community platform that is sponsored by GenScript (5). It encourages scientific talk through board posts and directs messaging to help spread scientific research. MolecularCloud staff, Josmary Medrano, reached out through the team’s Instagram account asking about setting up an interview that happened on June 14, 2021. We saw this as an opportunity to share aspects of our project with a different audience. It was successful in terms of discuss the details of our project.
For the interview, we prepared a presentation to discuss what our project entails. We also discussed our ChiSPY construct and the overall goal of our project. The presentation was used to visually inform our audience to provide a clear and concise explanation for our project. The interview session has an interactive format in which the audience had questions about the project which were addressed. We communicated our ideas and discussed further details of the ChiSPY project between the team and MolecularCloud. The interview also helped the members by exposing them to a presentation setting in front of an audience.
Gene Circuit Card Game
The Gene Circuit Card game is based on an original game called Oregon Trail (1). The goal of the game is to inform students about different aspects of synthetic biology and how it related to our project in brief detail. It engages students to think about the components of how to a gene circuit in constructed and what all is involved in making one. For example, the Lubbock iGEM team used NEB e. coli cells to undergo transformation. There is a specific card within the game that highlights NEB e. coli cells as a Circuit card. This card is further explained in the game of why these e. coli cells are important and what they are used for in terms of our project. Moreover, how one wins the game is to have at least one member of the party survive the rigors of the DNA Helix Trail. The content of the game includes Players Cards, DNA Helix Trail Cards, Circuit Cards, Supply Cards, 1 Die, and Gene Circuit Trail Instruction Booklet.
The team decided to create the Gene Circuit Card Game to help engage our audience and make the process of learning more thrilling. The materials were made based on research, suggestions, and support from our audience. We obtain feedback from others which we then used to alter our game to make the learning experience better. In terms of our main target audience, we aimed at those who actively approach themselves to scientific knowledge. The target audiences were elementary school, middle school, and college students. By targeting these specific audiences, we hope to deliver synthetic biology-related information and peak their excitement in science. We added in the gene circuit card game to have hand-on-experiments to let our audience learn while playing. The iGEM members played along with them to address any questions they had about the game.
Mad Hatters Game Day
Mad Hatter’s is a board game store that has been collecting card games, board games, and role-playing games . It provides the community with a friendly environment to share and play games with others. We saw this as an opportunity to share our Gene Circuit Card Game with the community. We successfully informed players that joined about synthetic biology. We considered feedback from the players and adjusted the game to best educate the ones that are playing. The players had many questions and the team was ready to address any concerns and explain in full detail about the project.
We took into consideration the feedback from players and facilitated changes to the game from their perspective. The feedback that we received was mainly that the display of the card text was small and difficult to read, as well as to have more card options in terms of a specific card. Overall, we presented an overview of the project that focused on the Bd pandemic problem and how our ChiSPY biosensor could contribute to the solution. Science communication was also discussed between players. They recalled what a DNA helix consists of and how our current websites such as Bencling and IDT allow us to make a biosensor. We also discussed what synthetic biology is and the great impact it has on the world.
Hope Community- Elevate HOPE: STEM Workshop:
Hope Community - Elevate HOPE serves as an after-school program that provides care, teaching, and fun to students of Dupree Elementary. They have developed a safe and exciting community for the students by teaching them to love themselves and others (3). There are many opportunities for students to finish their schoolwork, receive tutoring from college students and interact to make friends with others.
Our main intention is to teach students from Dupree Elementary about the basics of synthetic biology and how it relates to our project. We had to modify our teaching to have younger students understand scientific terms and information. Students were excited to play and asked many questions about the Gene Circuit Card Game. The questions asked were about specific game card types such as the DNA Helix Trail card, Supply Card, Circuit Cards and Player cards.
For example, each player card has its own ‘special ability’ such as the promoter card when activated turns on transcription. Students not only engaged with the team but with others by strategizing what supply cards to give up and lose when it came to fixing a circuit card. Overall, students became very informed and loved the scientific card game that we presented.
“The Oregon Trail Card Game.” Pressman Toy, https://www.pressmantoy.com/product/the-oregon-trail-card-game/.
 Mad Hatter's House of Games, http://www.madhattershouseofgames.com/.
 “Impacting the Heart of Lubbock.” Hope Community Lubbock, https://www.hopecommunitylbk.com/programs/.