Macquarie University Open Day
The Macquarie University Open Day was a great opportunity for our iGEM team to reach out and communicate our project to the public. Open day attracts a large number of people including potential future students, current students, alumni, and families interested in the activities and facilities on offer.
How did Open Day unfold?
The morning of Saturday 12th September 2015 saw an early start for the Macquarie iGEM team members. We prepared a set of fun and interesting activities for the Open Day, which was attended by over 15,000 people. These were designed to engage the public and help them to get a better understanding of our research and aims. Our display attracted people of all ages who actively participated in the activities set out. Overall, it was a rewarding experience and allowed us to use the entire day to involve the community in our experience.
Can these activities be adapted for use by other iGEM teams?
Definitely! The activities are designed to be simple so that people can easily understand the techniques used in Synthetic Biology. The interactive nature of the activities allowed the public to see, touch, and engage in activities that represent pursuits in the lab. The Macquarie University iGEM team believe that these activities can be adapted for future outreach ventures.
What activities were implemented and why were they useful?
- Chlorophyll Chromatography
- As chlorophyll is the key molecule in our project, we ran a chromatography demonstration to separate pigments in spinach and kale leaves. An array of green-yellowish bands were produced and used to explain what the chlorophyll pigment is and why it is important.
- Construct your own DNA
- Using a DNA lego kit people got the chance to simulate designing and synthesising DNA. Our volunteers were there to help explain the processes and how this is utilised in synthetic biology.
- Display of designer E. coli cultures
- E. coli colourfully expresses interesting and intricate designs on solid media. This serves as a simple example of how bacteria can be manipulated to have new functions. We had a lot of fun creating these cultures where our very own team mascot made an appearance as well as our team logo and University’s new logo.
- Microscopic exploration
- People had the opportunity to magnify leaves, flowers, and other objects up to 200x using the proscope. Everyone also enjoyed taking a close look at other objects including the fabric of their clothes and their skin!
- Light microscopes were also set up showing Chlamydomonas reinhardtii algal cells to aid in explaining the origin of the genes we’re working with in developing the chlorophyll biosynthesis pathway and photosystem II in E. coli.
- Public screening of "So you think you can synthesise"
- To round out and bring together all of our activities Season 2 of the world’s first synthetic biology themed reality TV show (synthetic entertainment at its best) was shown. People enjoyed the the fun and light-hearted presentation of information and found it easy to digest.
We made a brochure to promote our activities:
Here are photos from the Macquarie University Open Day: