The educational activities of our team were diverse and included the creation and distribution of a documentary, a student journal, a card game, and lessons directly at schools. More information about these projects can be found on the Education & Communication page. Here their educational value for society is described.
The scale of the GHG pollution problem is alarming - the planet is heating up, and the younger generation will have to put up with the consequences of this. Coverage of the methane pollution issue in the Netherlands, the current state of ways to solve the problem, and the role of GMOs in it - we invite viewers to find new insight on this topics in the documentary "Where to and where from - Greenhouse Gases and Blame - The Dutch Farming Industry". The documentary speaks about the problem in an accessible and engaging way and encourages the viewer to form their own opinion and ideas. The film contains a message that is more likely to have an effect when presented to a broad audience. That is why we took care of the distribution of the picture, and in addition to the watch party organized by the faculty, we made "Where to and where from - Greenhouse Gases and Blame - The Dutch Farming Industry" available to the audience on our YouTube platform. Thus, we hope that with a coverage of the topics including conflict between the Dutch farmers and their government, the problem of GHG emissions and the potential solutions thereof starts a dialogue and encourages more teams to tackle this environmental and social issue. More information can be found here.
Our team continued last year’s journal initiative. The MSP Vector is a platform where teams can publish their work, including experiments, literature reviews and other communications. Furthermore, our open journaling system website provides writing tutorials and guides for scientific writing. Participants in this initiative had the opportunity to train their writing skills, review other papers and improve their writing based on the reviews received. More information can be found under our Journal Tab.
Who said that learning cell biology is boring? Admittedly, studying at an advanced level requires perseverance, but even a child can quickly learn the key biological aspects when learning playfully. CellBuilder is a game with intuitive rules that provides an exciting, competitive process of mastering the cell's basic components and their functions. Take the game to the next level and take evolution into your own hands - as soon as the principle of cell operation is mastered, the possibilities for their modification are endless: welcome to synthetic biology!The game was developed for an audience not related to biology, including primary and secondary school age. It is easy to simplify, complicate the game - CellBuilder is distributed in pdf format. More information can be found here.
Try it yourself!
iGEM teams work with GMOs and, of course, are concerned about the image of such organisms among the general public. Our team is no less interested in the ethics and safety of synthetic biology products, so we decided to ask the perspective on this from schoolchildren.
High school students are part of a generation that will see the dawn of synthetic biology being implemented to fight climate change. In order to get their perspective on GMOs, our team first held an online presentation for high school students of the ‘Gymnasium Thun’ school and then organized a debate session, aimed at identifying the main concerns about GMOs, new ideas about security measures, and future prospects. The students were assigned into random groups that were assigned an opinion on the use of synthetic biology, GMOs and our project. After receiving a week’s time for preparation, the debate started. Taking notes, our team members did not interfere with the debate, but only offered advice or opinions after all the debates were concluded, so as to not bias the students.
The students would gain important experience in multiple ways. On the one hand, it was a good exercise in spoken English. On the other hand, these lessons forced them to confront themselves with their opinion on GMOs, and furthered their critical thinking. Furthermore, as the teacher, Ms. Davalan, explained, it showed them the use of English for their potential future studies, as many university courses (also within Switzerland) are already taught in English. Therefore they got an insight into what the English language will be of use for in their future. Furthermore, this exchange also allowed them to ask questions to young students and scientists, so that they can get an idea of what studying abroad is like (as the team members conducting these lessons are also foreign students in the Netherlands). Lastly, we hope that some of the students have gotten new information from this, and that this debate may have sparked their interest in synthetic biology, and maybe motivated some of them to themselves form an iGEM team one day.
All details of these debates can be found here, where also the lesson plan and the presentation are linked.