In order to generate awareness about synthetic biology, we aimed for diversity in our interactions and creating a SynBio narrative that our audience would enjoy tuning into. Synthetic biology is a language that few people beyond academia can understand. We wanted to create an interest in synthetic biology from the ground up. With the pandemic and online education in every school across the country, we created interactive, informative and exciting content that students could try out all on their own, in the comfort of their homes.
We started with humble webinars, conducting 1-1.5 hour live sessions online with schools and teaching them about synthetic biology. We also performed hands-on Banana DNA extraction experiments that students could do along with us in their homes. We set up WhatsApp groups to answer every question students had before, during and even after the webinar. These direct interactions, questions and suggestions from students inspired us to keep creating content for these budding researchers. We have conducted webinars with over 800 students from across India and beyond. Webinars were appreciated and even made it to a local newspaper.
In collaboration with iGEM MRIIRS, we created a synthetic biology video series for our viewers and student groups, which is currently on both teams’ YouTube channel and Instagram.
The videos start with basic concepts in molecular & synthetic biology and then transition into applications of Synthetic Biology in Forensics, Agriculture and Vaccination.
Synbio Quizzes and Synbio Themed Treasure Hunts were fun group activities with exciting incentives like prize money and appreciation posts on Instagram. Our team also conducted a quiz during AIIM 2020.
Treasure Hunt Questions
Treasure Hunt Answers
Syn-Esthesia our in-house Synthetic Biology Art and Poetry Competition with great cash prizes and Instagram posts was open to both school students and our widespread Instagram audience mainly comprising of college students.
Our in-house e-Magazine ‘GENOS’ - Making a Difference One Transformation at a Time was filled with simple posts, stories, art pieces and videos that were widely circulated within our student WhatsApp groups to boost interest in Synthetic Biology. Turning Genos into a Science Communication Collaboration helped us get content from teams across the world like iGEM iBowu China, iGEM MRIIRS, iGEM TuDelft to these young curious minds.
We created infographics and e-brochures to teach students about genetic engineering techniques like PCR, gel electrophoresis, cloning, transformations and traditional synthetic biology techniques that have transformed our labs.
We launched a DIY-Experiment Series for students at home where they can try out basic synthetic biology experiments all by themselves from DNA extraction with banana, to creating microbial cultures with gelatin plates, to checking pH with turmeric or just understanding how enzymes work with hands-on experiments.
We had a team of ten active bloggers who published great quality content with up to three articles on Synthetic Biology every week which were shared widely on Medium, Whatsapp and promoted actively on Instagram. These articles were as dynamic as biosensors to vegan meat to biofactories or just luminescence. Wherever synthetic biology had a real-world application we spoke about it to keep our audience hooked.
While our Facebook page joined the picture much later. We tried to gain traction through our various posts and videos. But most importantly through our International debate competition which helped us reach out to students in the global debating circuits.
Exhibition Debate on GMOs: As part of science communication we organised an International Debate on GMO Policy with the best debaters in the world. This began conversations of synthetic biology in debating circuits from Europe, North America to India and China. Over a hundred of debaters from around the world attended the live stream of the debate surrounding GMOs which created major awareness about the impact of Synthetic Biology at a global scale.
Synthetic Biology in Major magazines and Blogs: Our synthetic biology articles have been promoted by major science communication blogs in the country such as IISER Mohali’s e-Magazine Manthan, The QRIUS RHINO to name a few. We also contributed a question to the Science Marathon, SciThon (for 9th to 12th graders) held during Singularity 2020, IISER Bhopal's annual science festival.