How we communicated our education and outreach initiatives


iGEM ​​Calgary cares about spreading scientific knowledge and resources to a wide variety of people so they can better understand the issues and share that knowledge themselves. An important mission of our team is to reach out to children in our communities and schools to advance science education and promote synthetic biology as an exciting and creative field. We worked with elementary and middle schools in Calgary to deliver a series of school lectures, conduct interesting science experiments, and introduce children to the possibilities of scientific inquiry. Using student feedback, we have created a video tool kit for students and teachers to use in their classroom to learn about synthetic biology. We also partnered with local nonprofit IndigeSTEAM to support summer camps that promote STEM and the arts in Indigenous communities. A strong focus on education and science communication is fundamental to connecting science with the general public. Cellucoat believes that today's work will sow fruitful seeds for future generations, and we are in awe of the growth we still see in the minds of the future.

Our outreach efforts have included other iGEM teams. Our Canadian iGEM team newsletter has been a wonderful point of reflection every month throughout the season, giving us a valuable look into the progress other teams were making. Our presence on social media has also connected us to teams across the globe and has served as a valuable tool for collaboration. We have also used social media as a hub for us to spread information. Finally, our biggest achievement has been successfully hosting JulyGEM for the 4th straight year. JulyGEM is an annual pitching competition that the Calgary team hosts, bringing together teams to get comfortable presenting our projects, receive feedback from other teams and competitors, and gain synbio insight from our wide variety of industry speakers. The event has come far from its roots, going from exclusively local teams in previous years to now bringing in dozens of teams from over the world. We wish all in the iGEM community good luck and hope it only grows stronger in years to come.

Communicating with Students

Educating Elementary and Junior High Schools About SynBio

In order to help spread synbio knowledge, we aimed to share the knowledge gained from iGEM with younger students. To do so, we contacted local schools and started a series of school talks during the iGEM season in May and June. We contacted dozens of public schools and gave several presentations on synthetic biology and iGEM in elementary through middle school classes. Our basic aim was to explain complex topics such as DNA replication, protein expression, and tools in synthetic biology in a way that young students could understand. We wanted to stimulate and arouse curiosity about biotechnology and research, and show that science can tackle various global problems such as food waste! We wanted to give a good overview and show that there are many facets to this field that require different talents.

In addition to the presentation, we brought a sample of green fluorescent protein-expressing E. coli, fungal samples, and even pieces of lab-grown bacterial cellulose. At the end of each visit, we gave a short demonstration of DNA extraction from strawberries and helped students to try it for themselves. These presentations were also used to measure pre- and post-interview interest and comprehension with Mentimetor's survey. The responses we received and the feedback from the form were insightful and have inspired our efforts to create educational tools for our future classes.

Overall we visited three schools in Calgary and engaged with approximately 250 students. We received feedback from over 150 students and educators that showed that these presentations were effective and engaging. 80.8% of her respondents found the workshop enjoyable, and 58.7% felt the workshop enhanced their understanding of synthetic biology. 78.4% of respondents expressed potential interest in future synthetic biology classes being integrated into the curriculum.

Our Educational Video Toolkit

We received very positive feedback from students who found the presentation informative and engaging, and from educators who hoped to receive another visit from iGEM in the future. We turned part of our presentations into a toolkit for educators looking to introduce students to synthetic biology. These included an introductory video on synthetic biology, a video for educators explaining how to run the demos we performed, and a video for students demonstrating the demos. The toolkit also included additional resources and FAQs for teachers. We plan to distribute this toolkit to educators in the schools we visit and continue to collect feedback on how to improve and extend this toolkit to be able to reach more people than we could by ourselves.


IndigeSTEAM aims to increase the delivery of Indigenous and culturally relevant programs on STEAM to support and enable bright futures for indigenous youth. Our team volunteered with IndigeSTEAM in facilitating experiments such as painting with bacteria and transforming bacteria to engage young people in science in a fun and interesting way. The team learned how to teach complex concepts to young people, listen to and provide feedback on their own science projects (including bioreactors), learned to build connections, and generally increase the interest of those pursuing STEM careers.

Communicating with iGEM Teams

Summer Newsletter

To better connect with our fellow Canadian iGEM teams, iGEM Calgary launched a newsletter in collaboration with Lethbridge Highschool, the University of Laval, Concordia University, McGill University, Queen’s University, and of course the University of Calgary. The monthly publication brought teams together (especially when Covid-19 remained an ongoing concern) by sharing experiences, achievements, and reflections on the time and energy we have all spent on our respective iGEM projects. It served as a lovely moment to pause and look back at the end of each month.


This year iGEM Calgary had the pleasure of hosting JulyGEM once again, an annual pitching competition brought dozens of teams together virtually from across the globe along with our lovely judges who also gave presentations to our participants that ranged on subject matter from how to become better science communicators to the latest in neurotechnology. JulyGEM is a two-day pitching competition, giving teams a chance to practice presenting as well as receiving feedback from judges. The judges themselves range in specialties from masters students to CEOs, and we chose judges who could give both unique insights as well as present on interesting topics from their field of expertise.

Communicating with the Public

Composting and Recycling Campaign

As we continue to develop our sustainable food packaging material, we believe that communicating with the public about reducing food and plastic waste is an urgent need. Thats why we partnered with the Calgary Compsting Facility to develop a campaign on recyling and composting awareness. Our goal is to use the campaign tips as a way to communicate the values of Cellucoat.

Branding and Outreach

One of the key ways science communcation is delivered in an effective manner is through visual aesthetics and branding. We carfeul considerations about public perception and the use of synethtic biology in developing a food packaging. In today’s day and age, we have found it increasingly important to maintain an online presence, this doesn’t just apply to our own lives, however. One of the fastest ways to reach a large audience, especially a targeted audience is through the use of social media. iGEM Calgary has kept an active Instagram page for promotion and to give updates on our project and to connect with our iGEM teams. We made a series of posts throughout our iGEM season, with topics ranging from HP feedback, education initiatives, customer discovery, and our trip to the Shepard Compost Facility! It’s served as a valuable asset as social media algorithms have connected us to teams far and wide and allowed us to connect with the touch of a button.