Human Practices

... often resembles public relations. We asked ourselves: Who is this public? How can we reach all members? Is there an ideal way to educate them about synthetic biology? We believe that there is not only one, but many ways.

In Human Practices, our main topic was the iGeneration campaign which is filled with many sub-projects. With iGeneration, we intend to reach all generations in our society, which gives us the option to get in contact with many different people. We talked with seniors about synthetic biology, and we were present on the Hessentag. This is a public event in Hesse with over half a million visitors. There, we performed some DNA extraction experiments with kids and used the opportunity to talk to their parents and other visitors.

A very big appointment was the iGEM MeetUp to which we invited all German iGEM teams. It was a great event. By listening to all the different projects, we got some new perspectives on our work in the laboratory. The MeetUp helped us to get in contact with other teams and to find our collaboration partner.

As last year, we organized a project with the Blista, which is a special school for visually impared students. Last year's iGEM Marburg team redesigned their project in a way that the Blista students could be part of the lab work. Our iGEM team is interested in a long-term cooperation, therefore we are planning to make this an annually event and invited them this year for the second time in a row. We prepared everything, therefore making it possible for the students to work in the lab under our charge - and they did, after a small background lesson. In addition to that we talked with them about their preferences and perspectives in synthetic microbiology. We are really looking forward to pursue this cooperation.

At another occasion, we visited a class of primary school students to teach them basic biology like the general structure of cells including microscopy experiments.

Through our whole projects, we learned that every generation needs their own connection to synthetic biology. While seniors liked to hear more information on new innovative medications and their production with the help of microorganisms whereas younger people preferred wider information about this new field of science. Our last project, was a stand at the summer fest of the local Max-Planck-Institute for terrestrial microbiology. At this celebration, we presented our self-made “Game of Cells” and played it with the present children. It was designed to teach biology in a playful way. To share the game with the iGEM community and all interested people, we are providing it as a pdf file on our wiki page.

In the future, we are planning to extend iGeneration and with this our education program. Our final goal is to include the whole population with different backgrounds, ages and fields of interest in further project designs. Additionally we are planning an education seminar with teachers. Teacher are very good multipliers for education of the next generation of synthetic biologists. Our goal is to bring state of the art research into the classroom.

iGEM Marburg - ZSM Karl-von-Frisch-Straße 16, D - 35043 Marburg