A colouring book to engage and educate.
It's the nature and nurturing of the young curious minds that decide the path for the individual. That's often quoted as ‘ Nature and nurture decides the future '.
Being undergrads in the field of science, we tried to make an impact on primary school students through a colouring book named "SPLASH". This book was an initiative for children of ages 5-9 to learn about science through simple illustrations, while having fun. In essence, it gives a glimpse of infectious diseases, and how pathogens can be both good and bad.
We had the initial plan of visiting nearby schools and explaining core concepts of Synthetic Biology to students. But the pandemic forced us to come up with novel ideas which are enjoyable for all, while promoting learning. Students can colour the book and send us photographs of their creative take on our illustrations. Students residing close to our college premises were called in, obeying proper guidelines for COVID-19 for colouring the book.
The book, in essence, explains how diseases are caused and what pathogens are. The focus is on viruses, since our project concerns Dengue. We highlighted the good and bad sides of these microbes by explaining how they can be deadly enough to create a pandemic, like SARS-CoV-2 or can help fight cancer, the oncolytic viruses. Children will be able to understand the diversity of different organisms, basics of dengue and the vector and the virus relationship through this book. In the end, we tried to introduce how viruses are engineered in labs and motivated younglings for scientific research.
Children also asked their doubts from the book and we thus compiled a Q&A forum on our website to answer their inquisitive questions, trying to do our part in kindling their curiosity. We released the colouring book online, and distributed some hard copies of the book to nearby school libraries free of cost.
We are also collaborating with NGOs working on the same. The book has been translated into other vernacular languages for a wider reach.
We also complemented it with the "SPLASH IT" competition where the top 5 entries will get a chance to be on our website as well as social media handles. While this was just the beginning, we hope that we will be able to implement more such ideas in the future and help in fostering scientific temper in our community.
Through SPLASH, we achieved excellence not only in Art and Design aspects- by illustrating and writing informative tidbits in the Colouring Book, but also in engaging with the community and informing them from such a young age, about scientific research and synthetic biology. This was an endeavour separate from our main project and by making this colouring book and answering their questions, we got a glimpse of some of the bright minds of the future and we’re all so glad for it.
Splash Preview : Click on the the book to sneak a peek!
Click Here to Download the full Book
Q and A
Sumitro Choudhury (CLASS 2) - " Why do we have fever?"
Team- " We get fever because our body is trying to kill the viruses or bacteria that caused the infection. Most of those bacteria and viruses function very well when your body is at our normal temperature. But if you have a fever, it is harder for them to survive. Fever also activates your body's immune system."
Do viruses have eyes, nose and mouth?
Team - "No, The simplest virus consists of two basic components: genetic material (RNA or DNA) that contains important information about how the virus behaves and a protein coat, the capsid, which functions as a shell to protect the genetic material inside of that capsule."
Supantho Chakraborty (Class5) " Do all fungi and worms need to be seen through a microscope? "
Team- " No, not at all. some are visible to naked eyes ,ex. mushroom. and similarly for the worms and in fact most of the worms are visible to naked eyes."
" How do the researchers change the DNA of a virus? "
Team- " DNA of all organisms, not just viruses, can be changed by scientists using methods of 'Synthetic Biology' where the normal sequence of materials inside the DNA is changed by adding something new or subtracting something from it. Once the DNA of any organism is changed, they can be made to behave differently."
"so, What are the different types of viruses?"
Team- " Based on their host, viruses can be classified into three types, namely, animal viruses, plant viruses, and bacteriophages."
"If the researchers can change the DNA of a virus can they do the same with
bacteria or other parasites?"
Team- " Nice Question."
Team- " Yes, researchers can manipulate the DNA of bacteria and other parasites as well just like viruses and even the process in other microorganisms is quite simpler than that of viruses."
"Are there other diseases that can be prevented by the good viruses?"
Team- " Other than the good viruses that can destroy cancer cells, some bacteriophages have also been used to cure diseases like Cholera."
"These bacteriophages/'good' viruses attack the small bacteria which cause diseases like Cholera, thereby helping us fight this disease."
" Okay "
" Why is there no cure for the dengue virus? "
" A vaccine for dengue is not as simple as one for measles or mumps, Dengue is caused by four related but entirely individual viruses, which differ in their antigenicity, meaning that any vaccine you develop must protect against not just one virus, but all the four."
Aditwitya Bhattacharjee- " What are the white coat people doing?"
Team- " They are known as scientists. The various medicines and vaccines that are present are usually created by scientists. "
" When we are ill is it always dengue? "
Team- " No it is not. Dengue is caused by a specific type of virus but there are many other small organisms as well that can cause fever or illness. "
Jay Harshit (6 years)- " How do viruses turn into good Viruses?"
Team- " Viruses are mostly known for their aggressive and infectious nature. Most viruses cause diseases ranging from a mild cold to serious conditions like severe breathing problems. "
Team- " But they're not all bad. Some good viruses can actually kill bacteria, while others can fight against more dangerous viruses. These good viruses either behave in this way naturally (Eg: bacteriophages) or scientists often use complex techniques to change the viruses in such a way that they attack the harmful elements in our body. "