Education and Communication
Just like any iGEM team, here at iGEM ULaval, learning and educating is at the center of our team. It is very important for us to have a positive impact on our community, whether it be through our main project aSAP or through science communication. We believe that the community has a big impact on science and thus we want to give them the tools and knowledge to better grasp what the scientific community is doing around them and around the world.

Morrin Centre - STEAM Club

In a few days, on October 26th, we will be hosting a workshop for around 20 to 30 children aged 8 to 12 to share the power of biotechnology. This workshop is organised for the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) club from the Morrin Centre, here in Quebec City, Canada.

The Morrin Centre is an English cultural center managed by Canada’s oldest learning society. They organise many activities for the anglophone community in Quebec City, such as concerts, writing activities, readings, and activities for children, including the STEAM club. This club organises a one-hour activity each week to explore different science and artistic themes while promoting creativity, thinking, perseverance.

Because of the pandemic, we will have to host our workshop through zoom, which will be a challenge because our target audience is quite young. Thus, we are making a workshop that is as interactive as possible and encourages excitement and engagement with the subject matter. This also helps the children remember information better.

The title of our presentation is “Become a hero with biotechnology” and through this workshop, we will introduce the children to what biotech is and how it is used to solve important issues. They will be able to express their creativity by drawing and inventing microorganisms with specific “powers” to solve an issue that interests them.

With this “choose your own adventure” format, we encourage children to interact with the presentation, us and with each other. This will allow teamwork, communication, creativity, and thinking, such as encouraged by the club. We don’t expect to share this event on social media to make it available for a broader audience, but we hope that by planning this event, we will want to organise more workshops for children on biotechnology.

Even if we haven’t presented our workshop yet, our team learned some important lessons on science communication. First, this was the first time that our team members organized a sci comm event for children, which was a challenge because we are more used to presenting to an audience with a general knowledge of biology. We also learned on how to make presentations as interactive as possible, given our target audience. Finally, even if we haven’t gotten feedback from our workshop, we were inspired by what our team did in 2019 with the STEAM club in 2019 to ensure a good presentation format.

Genscript interview

Earlier in the year, Genscript approached us for a quick interview of our project, which was done through a recorder zoom interview. Our target audience was the general science community and people who are familiar with Genscript, given that the video was shared on their Youtube channel. This allowed us to promote our project to a broader community, outside of iGEM. We hope that this interview will spark curiosity for a few people to check our socials and our wiki and learn new applications of synthetic biology.

This was a new challenge for our team members because it was the first time we were formally interviewed like this. We had to learn how to describe our project on the spot, without knowing the questions beforehand. We also had to make sure our answers were well explained and understandable by a broad audience who knows nothing about our project.

Collaboration Maman_veut_savoir x iGEM ULaval

Maman_veut_savoir is a youtube channel and an instagram account of scientific popularization intended for a young public. Maman_veut_savoir wanted to make videos on the process of transforming maple water into maple syrup. She contacted us to help her with the scientific aspect of the video. We have the first meeting with Maman_veut_savoir where we agreed on the format of the videos and the parameters of the collaboration. Two videos will be made by Maman_veut_savoir and we will help her with the scientific aspect. We have another meeting to answer more specifically his questions about the maple syrup production process. We also have many email exchanges to clarify some concepts. We also review the text of the videos to make sure that everything is scientifically correct. We also decided to make a third video with Maman_veut_savoir. This video, in the form of an interview with members of the iGEM team, allows us to explain in more detail our aSAP project and the issues surrounding the production of ropy maple syrup.

As for the content, the videos focus on the production and transformation process of maple syrup. We also briefly discuss the Maillard reaction and the role it plays in the color of maple syrup and the different types of syrup produced during the season. We also talk about the different maple products such as maple taffy or maple butter and how they differ from the maple syrup.

Our target audience is elementary school children. The videos are very simple and have many small graphics and colorful elements to attract and keep their attention. We anticipate that children will likely watch the videos with their parents. The goal is really to pique the curiosity of these children and get them more interested in science.

The videos were shared on various social networks in an attempt to reach a wider audience. Links to the videos were shared on the iGEM ULaval team's Facebook and Instagram pages and on the Maman_veut_savoir Instagram page in the form of posts and stories. The videos are posted on youtube on the Maman_veut_savoir channel and are available to all for viewing.

Below are the titles of the videos, if you want to find them on youtube. They are also shared on our social media.

“La cabane à sucre: le sirop d’érable.”

“La cabane à sucre: la tire et le beurre d’érable”

“Cabane à sucre (sirop d’érable): Sirop filant”

Collaboration Passion Bouffe x iGEM Ulaval

As part of our fundraising campaign on La Ruche, we wanted to make a counterpart in the form of a virtual recipe book. This recipe book would showcase maple products and would even have several scientific facts to pique the curiosity of readers. To do this, we needed more specialized help, though.

Passion Bouffe is a recipe blog run by Laurie-Jane Couture who studies nutrition at Université Laval. We contacted Laurie-Jane and discussed our project idea with her, asking her if she could help us. She has already produced several virtual recipe books and has good experience in this field, so she helped us get a more professional result.

During our first meeting with her, she gave us several tips on how to make a template for our book. She also offered to help us take pictures of our recipes and offered to make three recipes for us. We met again with Passion Bouffe a little later to get her advice on the design of our recipe book.

She reviewed the recipes we designed ourselves and gave us several resources, such as a standardized recipe writing guide, to ensure that our virtual book looked as professional as possible. We also decided to include about ten science facts throughout the book. These facts cover topics ranging from microbiology, food science, chemistry, neuroscience, and health science.

We felt that, by Including them in a recipe book like this, we would be able to share science in a way that linked it intimately with people’s everyday lives, thus hopefully piquing their interest in the science behind the world around them in a way that stood out.

Moreover, all of the scientific facts we included in the book were based on reliable sources. We made sure to include a reference section in the book, presenting not only a simple bibliography but also offering other references that cover the topics we allude to in a simple, easy-to-understand way. We did this specifically so that people who were interested in a subject we talked about could look into the topics with a gentle introduction to the subject.

Our target audience was people who donated a certain amount of money to our La Ruche social fundraising campaign. The recipe book serves as a counterpart for these generous donors and contains 14 recipes each featuring maple products. Thus, this recipe book allows us to encourage maple syrup producers in Quebec. As a bonus, our ten or so scientific facts are intended to pique the readers' curiosity and interest in various scientific subjects.


This collaboration brought our biggest communication event this iGEM year. With three other iGEM teams (Team Concordia-Montreal, Team Patras, and Team Thessaloniki) and WiSTEM, an after iGEM event, we collaborated to highlight how women impact STEM and promote diversity and inclusion in STEM. We created two communication materials: a virtual billboard and a workshop.

Rosalind Chronicles

This virtual billboard allowed around 26 iGEM teams to submit a short bibliography from a woman in STEM from their country that inspires them. We also wanted to encourage and promote incoming women in STEM by letting teams submit a photo of women in their iGEM team.

We decided to create a virtual billboard because we wanted to use an interactive platform, to change from something more formal like a PDF. We hope that this format helps iGEM teams reflect on inspiring women in STEM in their country. We also hope that this allows teams to discover women in STEM throughout the world.

For this format, our main audience is other iGEM teams but by sharing our billboard on social media we hope to make this material accessible to a broader audience. This new interactive format encourages an indirect dialogue between teams, allowing them to write about inspiring women in STEM.

This communication event allowed all four teams to learn a lot! We learned about a whole new form of communication, which is very different from what we learn in science. As well, we learned a lot from other teams and we are proud to do a part in promoting women in STEM.

Women in STEM - Diversity and Inclusion Workshop

During this workshop, our introduction focused on describing the Matilda effect. This term, coined by Margaret Rossiter, historian, describes the tendency of women’s research in STEM to be taken by men for their own credit.

Next, half of our presentation focused on women in STEM throughout history. We presented quick biographies of women from the 19th century to today. In this segment, we described their work and talked about how the Mathilda effect affected the credit they received. In the second segment, we informed listeners on how to make research and iGEM teams more diverse and inclusive. We defined these terms, explained their differences, and similarities and defined cognitive dissonance and how it is implicated in the avoidance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace and in our society.

Given that we wanted to invite a dialogue between the scientific and iGEM communities and our teams, we decided to host this workshop on zoom and encourage people to ask questions and start a dialogue. To keep the conversation going, we gave the audience a plethora of resources that discuss diversity and inclusion inside and outside STEM. We hope that these resources will allow people to reflect on their experiences with diversity and inclusion and explore how they can make a space more diverse and inclusive. Also, to make this subject available to a broader audience, we shared our presentation on social media.

Organising this workshop allowed our team to learn a lot about communication and event organisation. This was the first time that the team members organising this presentation managed the promotion, planification and other technical aspects of a workshop. We also learned teamwork at a distance, given that our four teams had very different time zones. Thus, we had to plan our meetings and promotion accordingly. Finally, all four teams and their members learned a lot about diversity and inclusion in STEM and we also learned about women’s representation in STEM and how it has changed throughout time.