The following are the various activities where we engaged with the public to gain knowledge of how comfortable they are with synthetic organisms. We also put on events for school children to educate them about bacteria and bioreactors.
Open Day Tours at the University of York (26/06/15-27/06/15):
- The team took the advantage to talk to perspective biology students at the University of York's open days in June. Here we spoke of our project and the general focus of the iGEM competition.
Leaflets Handed out at the Festival of ideas(15/06/15)
- To further advertise the contest and our project we produced leaflets to be distributed at an event know as the Festival of Ideas. This is a festival in York in which the public can attend free talks, exhibitions and events. For this year the festival followed a theme of secrets and discoveries.
- Here at the University of York there is a strong base of Alumni which support many groups within the university. With this in mind we designed a segment to be apart of the newsletter that is sent to the Alumni.
Santander Round Table Discussion
- Our team was fortunate enough to receive funding from Santander Universities to help with the travel costs of getting to the Jamboree in Boston. A round table discussion was set up for all recipients of the funding across the university to come speak to members of Santander's team. This was a fantastic opportunity to publicise our project further.
St Helens Church Strawberry DNA Extraction (28-29/07/15)
In late July we took the opportunity to carry out a two day long outreach event at St Helens Church in York City Centre. We were given permission to use the venue to carry out a simple demonstration in which members of the public could isolate DNA from strawberries.
To do this we asked participants to pour 10ml of ordinary household washing up liquid into a beaker containing 90ml of distilled water. A quarter of teaspoon of salt was then added to the solution and gently mixed. Participants were then required to add strawberries and the extraction solution from the beaker into a zip lock bag. They could then smash the strawberries until no large pieces remained. The resulting solution was strained through a sieve into a clean beaker. 10ml of 100% ethanol was measured and then added to the beaker. A white suspension forms at the surface of the liquid, this is the DNA.
Also we took the opportunity to advertise our project through posters and a video. Many of our visitors discussed the topic of GM with us and kindly left comments at the end of the demonstration. Here a few comments we received:
Age UK Demonstration and Discussion(23/07/15)
We arranged for three of our team members to visit a local retirement home to lead a discussion on the topic of genetic modification. An hour was spent talking to eight individuals on their personal thoughts about synthetic biology. Also a small demonstration where DNA is isolated from strawberries was performed. Our team members also gave a quick presentation about the basics of genetic engineering.
This was an excellent opportunity for the team to gain insight into the publics perspective, particularly that of the older generation. It became clear in the visit that many of the individuals had little scientific knowledge on the matter but associated the topic with many negative stories from the media.
Sutton Womens Institute (WI) Discussion (09/09/15)
A talk titled ‘The ethics of genetic modification’ was organised to discuss the science and ethics behind GM along with introducing our project. The talk was delivered to a large group of WI members. To begin a brief show of hands was used to find out if the group agreed, disagreed or didn’t know how they felt on GM. The talk was then carried out to give the participants a better understanding on the topic. At the end a question and answer session took place again to see if further knowledge had changed any opinions. From this we saw that the number of members agreeing with GM increased but so did the number that disagreed. Overall, the event was very positive and many people said it was great to hear a discussion about the issues of GM.
Badger Hill Primary School (14/07/15)
Our team was keen on carrying out an educational workshop with local school students to engage them in science. A small group of our team visited a local primary school with the aim of leading a lesson based on the concept of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria. As a part of this we gave the children an opportunity to design and model their own fictional bacteria using plasticine
Demonstrating Genetic Engineering with High School Students (15-17/07/15)
For 3 days our team helped demonstrate for an outreach event with 16 year old students. On the first day the lab practical involved genetically engineering E.coli to produce a fluorescent pigment. This was achieved using a gene from jelly fish. During this practical session the students were taught the importance of aseptic techniques in the laboratory setting. For the second day in the labs students were tasked with creating their own ‘bioreactors’ to grow their previously transformed cells. The third and final day of the event gave the students chance to see which team got the most growth depending on the conditions their bioreactor was place in.
Philosophical Discussion with Prof. David Efird (12/07/15)
A discussion was set up with Prof. David Efird a senior lecturer of Philosophy at the University of York. We wanted to gain an insight into the effects of religious beliefs on people's attitudes to GMOs, which linked to part of our survey we set up.