Education and Public Engagement


For the past two years, along with the pandemic, learning was mostly done from home. This was a challenge not only for students but for teachers as well.

Our team decided to try and invent interesting and innovative ways to introduce science into people’s lives. By organizing and participating in events, creating educational tools, or simply discussing with people interested in learning more we managed to present many aspects of the great world of science, synthetic biology, and scientific research to the public.

We spared no effort to include as many age groups as possible

Integration week

Last year was particularly complicated for students, especially for first-year undergraduate students.

Studying from home, not always finding the motivation to follow online classes, not being able to create and fond relationships with other students is not an easy task just after high school. Starting your higher education, during a pandemic, comes with a lot of complications.

Synthetic biology is not a course thought in our institution, the University of Nantes. This is why it was important for us, to present our project in front of newly arriving students. We did this in two different ways:

During the first week of the new school year, the University of Nantes organizes events that help introduce associations and projects lead by students, including iGEM. New students can walk around all of the booths and ask questions. We talked with many students which allowed us to explain and introduce them to synthetic biology and the iGEM competition. Not only that, but we also took the opportunity to raise awareness about the impact of green tides and show everyone that with a little bit of motivation and hard work, many applications could be found.

We also went to lecture halls to promote our project and the competition. We talked with students from many different fields of study and different years. Our goal was to reach as many diverse domains as possible, we wanted to show everyone that iGEM teams can consist of students with very different backgrounds.

“Passeport Recherche”

“Passeport Recherche” is an operation integrated into the Regional Educational Pact of the Pays de la Loire Region and supported by the rectorate of the Nantes academy. The program invites young high school students to embark on an investigation process around a scientific issue from different research laboratories in the region. Through meeting researchers, communication partners, and a laboratory visit, students develop new skills.

Our team was invited this year to participate in this unique collaboration. We carried our activities and created a dialogue with a class of high school students. We introduced them to our project, to synthetic biology , and the iGEM competition. During the event all of the students participating made an oral presentation in front of a large audience. We also had the opportunity to present our project in front of the same audience and hopefully, this motivated the students to continue being this curious and pursue their scientific studies. Perhaps this made the students want to set up their own iGEM team?

Maker campus

A great popular science festival, Nantes Maker Campus brings together technology enthusiasts, industrialists, amateurs, engineers, science clubs, artists, students, and startups. During 3 days, the makers present their inventions. This year we were lucky enough to be invited to this event and we were able to introduce our project to the public through a conference and activities around algae.

This year we were able to participate in the 5th edition of the“Science de la vie” Congress of the University of Nantes. This Congress is organized by students and some of our team members participated in the organization. The program combines presentations of invited researchers and students who have done internships this year as part of their training. This allows students to have feedback on their work but also to show younger students the possible domains they can work and train in. We had the opportunity to do a presentation and to explain what iGEM is and make the students of our university aware of our project.

Art is a universal language. This is why mixing science and art seemed obvious to us. To do so, we organized and are still organizing several exhibitions to provide a completely different approach to science and particularly to algae. It is important for us to raise awareness about science and environmental issues. These themes also need to be approached in different forms, to reach an audience that enjoys any form of art. We are proud to collaborate with artists from different fields and teams from several countries, mixing art and sciences.

We already did three art exhibitions. All were free and open to the public :

  • - At the University Library of the Faculty of Sciences from October 8 to the beginning of November 2020
  • - At the ”Village des Sciences”, for 3 days during the Science festival in Nantes, from October 9, 2020
  • - At the “Maison des Hommes et Techniques” in Nantes for 2 whole weeks, in October 2021.

In these exhibitions, about ten artists and craftsmen participated. We also offered a collaboration opportunity to the other iGEM Teams. Seven iGEM teams in total participated, from 5 different countries - iGEM Sorbonne (France), iGEM Aix Marseille (France), iGEM iBowu China (China), iGEM Jiangnan China (China), iGEM Unesp Brazil, iGEM Estonia (Estonia), and iGEM Athens (Greece). You can find learn more about collaboration in the Collaboration section The artworks are exposed in different ways. Some teams or artists preferred painting, others photography, and others even architecture.

Last year we let the public choose the name of our last exhibition at “La Maison des Hommes et des Techniques “, it was called "D’algues en Art"

Fête de la science

We held an iGEM-Nantes booth during the Science Festival, which lasted for 2 days. The Science Festival is a national event which is organized in every French city at the same period. The goal of this event is to interpret science in a way that is accessible to a general audience. In this regard, there are exhibitions, conferences, and educational workshops about every scientific discipline, that are available and open to the public.

At the Science Festival, you can see people of all ages and backgrounds being present that’s why that is why we presented activities that can appeal to all age groups. We proposed microscopic observations of microalgae that were really interesting for people of all ages, especially kids. Then, we organized a tasting of different tartars based on seaweeds to show that seaweeds can be used in many different ways. This tasting was appreciated by the adults, it was a very friendly moment because it allowed us to discuss our project with the public. However, the children were less interested in tasting when we told them that it was seaweed, some of them, more curious, still wanted to taste what we had to offer and they were pleasantly surprised

The biggest success of our stand was a game aimed at introducing laboratory equipment to a non-scientific public. The goal of this game was to put laboratory equipment in a black box where you can't see inside. The player placed hands in the box and had to try to guess just by touching and thanks to a poster, which laboratory material the object corresponds to. This game was very appreciated by the children, at times there was a queue to participate

This year there were a lot of people at the science fair and we had a lot of positive feedback on our project.

Board Game


Last year our team started developing a board game with educational purposes, aiming mostly at the promotion of synthetic biology. A board game is an innovative way to introduce science to people, no matter their background. We created something interactive, that makes players work together, learn and have fun while doing it. Since last year our idea evolved, but the concept is essentially the same. You can still be able to play in teams or on your own, there are still different scientific questions, based on different fields and the final goal is still to correctly answer as many questions as possible so you can collect all of the parts and build a plasmid. What changed the most is the design of the actual game board.

Creation of the game

The idea was here but we needed to work more on the design and the rules of the game so it could be as most accessible as possible. Damien Marquis, a scientist and board game developer in our university, accompanied us throughout the whole process. We organized meetings every week or so, that way he could give us pointers and guide us as much as possible. The development of the game followed a few simple steps. If you want to learn more about the creation of the board game click here


The goal of the game is to collect all the parts of a plasmid and build it as fast as possible by answering questions. The game board is divided into 6 sections: the molecular biology lab, the chemistry/biochemistry lab, the physics lab, the bioinformatics/math lab, the animal biology, and botany lab, and of course the iGEM laboratory. Each section (or laboratory) has cards with questions based on that domain. Each team has to pass by each part of the board and answer a question correctly in order to collect the corresponding part of the plasmid.

Tests in schools

Once the game was done we wanted to test it with the public. We took it to different events we participated in like Maker Campus and the “Fête de la science”. We explained the rules to people and asked them the questions in the game. We got great feedback concerning ways we can make the game better.

The main audience for us was high school and middle school students. This is why we contacted schools in the region to set up sessions with students and see what they think of our game. Team members went to several schools and explained the rules to students and then played a few times with them. In the end, students were asked to give us feedback on the experience. We also had the opportunity to talk about the iGEM competition and our fields of studies. We hope that this experience made some students more interested in science. After all, a career in science could be an enriching and exciting experience and we hope we showed that with our intervention!

What we have learned

The iGEM competition helps us develop many skills. Talking in front of a big audience is something that could be difficult for many people, especially when the listeners come from all kinds of backgrounds. Having to adapt our speech according to the age of the public requires clear communication skills, fluency, and confidence in the project as well as the knowledge we are trying to pass on. The experience, we acquired thanks to our instructors, we were able to adapt our materials and explanations during events and projects! It was a real satisfaction.

Thanks to the iGEM competition, we succeeded in spreading our knowledge as much as possible within the city of Nantes, in France, and even internationally, using social media, fun models and events, so that everyone feels concerned