Team:St Andrews/Communication

Education and Communication


We wanted to make education materials for several different groups of people to make the materials more accessible to the public. Firstly, we made three lesson plans for primary school-aged children. The first lesson introduced pupils to synthetic biology. The lesson encouraged them to complete tasks that emulated what a synthetic biologist does every day. The second lesson focused on DNA, and pupils were able to follow instructions to extract DNA from a strawberry, amongst other activities. The third and final lesson was more specific to our project. It encouraged students to think about sunscreens and why we use them, and then to relate this to coral bleaching. We also introduced our proposed solution, Shinescreen. All these lesson plans will be passed on to teachers as part of Explorathon, which is a large biology event organised in Scotland. We also hope that the lesson plans can be accompanied by further experiment materials, which would be sent to teachers in advance, but we are still working on this. If COVID rules allow, we also hope to deliver these materials ourselves in local schools, so that teachers and children can ask us questions.

The King’s College London iGEM team also helped us with an additional lesson plan regarding about synthetic biology in general accompanied with an easier experiment.

Secondly, we wanted to produce educational materials for mums with their new babies. We teamed up with the Parenting Science Gang, who agreed to share the materials we made with their members. The Parenting Science Gang is a Facebook group, where parents can pose and debate about current topics. We originally wanted this to be more interactive, but due to COVID, we decided to make a poster instead, as this was more accessible to a wider variety of people. That way, we can answer questions on the group whilst keeping mums and babies safe. We designed the poster to include two sections: ‘The Problem’ and ‘The Solution’. This is because we wanted to ensure that people continued to use sunscreen, but used reef-friendly alternatives. We felt it was important to highlight the possible solutions instead of simply pointing out the problems that currently exist. application explanation


Finally, we also collaborated with University of St Andrews’ Public engagement department to reach a larger audience with our message about preserving the marine environment. With the help of Calum McAndrew we created an informative animated video about coral bleaching which can be found here