Two activities at Ridaisai
“Ridaisai”, which is a school festival of the Tokyo University of Science, was held for students and visitors in November 2019. We had two activities at Ridaisai. We held a workshop to make DNA-shaped charms. Firstly, we explained the structure of DNA briefly. Participants threaded beads through the wire. When they twisted the wire, it looked like a double helix. Each bead represented sugar, phosphoric acid, and four different types of base. Also, we sold butterfly pea tea, which changes color by pH. Visitors squeezed a slice of lemon into a cup of tea and enjoyed the changing of colors. Through our activities, we hoped that participants felt closer to science.
Press release reading club
On July 26th, our team held a "press release reading club." At this club, by sharing and discussing the various press releases of research related to the interests of participants, we managed to cultivate a better understanding of each article and broaden our horizon. Some of the participants did not usually have access to information about research, with the support of team members, they gained a certain familiarity with science in the form of knowing the actual research results through this meeting. For example, one of the articles was about crystal in organisms, and the discussion develops real depth, the topic was associated with many topics of biology, such as proteins, crystalline lens, biomineralization. Many of the participants said in after survey that the club had been a valuable opportunity to come into contact with areas that they were not usually involved in.
Questionnaire of this event
Did you know the press release, before you join this event?
Blue:I knew it well
Red:I knew it partially
Yellow:I did not know much.
Green:I did not know that at all.
Did you know the press release, before you join this event?
Blue:Yes, I have.
Red:No, I have not.
Please make a comparison, between before you join this event and after you join this event, does your interest in science has been changed? Please answer to select number from 1 to 5, 1 is minimum and 5 is maximum.
Would you continue to read press release in your daily life? Please answer to select number from 1 to 5, 1 is minimum and 5 is maximum.
How did you know about this event?
LINE: 16.7 %
Twitter: 16.7 %
Invited by friend: 33.3 %
LINE of our club: 16.7 %
Invited by our club members: 16.7 %
What is your interesting field?
Protein Engineering: 16.7 %
Coevolution and game theory: 16.7 %
Biological science: 16.7 %
Biological material production: 33.3 %
About gene: 16.6 %
Please write the points of improve, opinion, feelings of this event. We want to use these answers for making and management next events.
Today’s activity is not a normal, so it was enjoyable.
I need more time to read press release.
That was a very wonderful event. Some articles which I do not read normal, so it makes me stimulation. I hope that, I want to get more than half an hour in additional to read and to talk about press release.
Genetic modification study session
On August 14, we held a genetic modification study session with team members. At the session, we learned about the domestic Law that establishes genetic modification and biodiversity (Law Concerning the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biological Diversity through Regulations on the Use of Living Modified Organisms) and how genetic modification are used. We also researched and discussed that genetic modification is how to be regulated and how people feel this technology in each country. For example, in some countries there is a strict rule that foods containing even a small amount of genetically modified organisms cannot be imported. On the other hand, in some countries, there were exhibits to display genetically modified animals as art works. In the future, we would like to hold a meeting to learn about genetic modification with the general public. From this study session, we found some effective things when we will hold it. Even students studying biology had difficulty learning the relevant laws. We noticed that making quiz format would support better understanding for general public. In addition, we thought it was interesting that we would interview on how to think about genetic modification for Japanese people.
The club thinking of SC
―Attending the club thinking of SC―
We attended a meeting called the club thinking of SC. At this meeting, participants presented and discussed about their SC (science communication) activities.
We talked about our project to teach genetic modification to elementary school students. This project encourages children to learn genetic modification online through games we made. However, this project could not be implemented because there were no participants. We wondered why there were no participants and presented it at this meeting. We advertised using SNS, and websites that introduce events, but the effect was weak. We thought there were some reasons. Family with children could not find our SNS accounts and they were not familiar with video conferencing applications.
After our presentation, we got various advice from participants. They suggested us that we should consider not only using online tools but also putting up posters in a prominent place. It was also pointed out that genetic modification was a bit of difficult theme, so they could not imagine the content easily and feel hard to join the project. They also suggested it was important to match the content of the project to the background of participants.
―Update our activity―
We found that genetic engineering is a little difficult for the general people. Therefore, it is necessary to think out ways to get people interested and decrease the difficulty to make it easier to understand. We thought attending an hour-long meeting is a hurdle but watching a three-minute video is easy. So, we decided to work on making videos.
―Tips for iGEMers―
I would like to share with iGEMers who are struggling with SC activities what I learned at this meeting about the "Essentials of Video Creation on You Tube". For SC activities on You Tube, you should be aware of the following.
- post it regularly
- Focusing on a hot topic, more people will find your products.
- Should not be boring to the viewer and making them feel difficulty.
- Choose just one message you want to tell in one video
- use more media
―Considerations for Online SC Activities―
Due to the impact of COVID-19, we have been forced to do online activities.
At the meeting, we discussed the advantages and disadvantages of being online. The following is what we discussed.
- It is difficult to confirm that the participants understand it "correctly", because online tends to be one way.
- It is more necessary to get participants attentions because they may become distracted in front of the monitor.
- It's hard to advertise your activities.
- No geographical limitations
- No need to secure a hall.
- Any time, any language
- Easy to show the highlights of the experiment.
Online and offline events have their own merits. Offline events can give participants a sense of reality. Online events are weak in this respect, but they could be supplemented by requesting participants to turn on their cameras or sending experimental tools, which participants use them by themselves.
Due to the influence of COVID-19, online events are becoming major. In the future, we might hold online events and offline events at the same time. This style will have advantage of both, so we will be able to create more wonderful SC activities.
Science Communication on YouTube
Due to the impact of COVID-19, it is difficult to organize events that bring people together in Japan today. Under these circumstances, YouTube is a very powerful tool for science communication in that it allows people to easily practice science communication at any place and time. The science communication we did on YouTube is an explanation of synthetic biology and the activities we do in iGEM. The target audience is adults and high school students who are not familiar with biology. To make it easier for them to watch, we created a video narrated by a virtual YouTube user, which is becoming more and more common these days.
-The video below is an outreach video explaining our project.-
The theme of the video is "Cigarette butts are useful in our lives". We tried to give an overview of the project to produce useful substances from nicotine extracted from cigarette butts, using the analogy of an urban mine, with as few technical terms as possible.
―Explanation of the basics of synthetic biology―
The theme of the video series is "Fundamentals of Genetic Recombination Technology and Its Use, Enlightening Synthetic Biology".For example, the first example explained the difference between genes and DNA, while the second explained genetic recombination technology and what we are actually doing with it in simple terms.Both videos are foundational knowledge of synthetic biology, but since we are targeting adults and high school students who are not familiar with biology, we have focused on knowledge that will help them understand it.This also has the potential to provide us with new insights from their point of view, even if the knowledge is general to those of us who are familiar with biology. We are convinced that this is one of the forms of interactive science communication that we, the Science Communication Section, are striving for.