The large rift between science and the general public is the result of lacking successful science communication. Especially in synthetic biology, the field involving innovative biotechnology and abstract genetic concepts is an unknown world to the public. We believe the main problem is founded on the inefficient explanation of scientific concepts by the scientists themselves. Thus, our plan is built around development of solutions to the questions: How do we communicate better? Our science communication projects consist of the collaboration of interdisciplinary fields of art, technology and synthetic biology, providing interactive and engaging information to the public.
"The practice of BioArt creates the third space, where the boundaries between art, science and the public disappear."
BioArt is an art practice where living matters such as microbes are used as the medium to create art, or the work that discusses the ethical, social and environmental issues surrounding biological science research. We think that BioArt plays a good role in communicating and visualizing science, providing people with non-scientific background accessibility to science in the form of art. Thus, we decided to use BioArt as a media to communicate synthetic biology.
Our team worked with KCL and NTHU_Taiwan to launch a series of BioArt events. We invited BioArtists from the UK and Taiwan to give public lectures of how BioArt builds up the science communication. Afterwards, we designed BioArt workshops and led the public to create the BioArtwork and discuss future possibilities and BioEthics regarding synthetic biology. Lastly, we launched an online BioArt Exhibition to demonstrate the artworks in the workshop. iGEM teams were also invited to be a BioArtist and demonstrate their artwork in our virtual art gallery.
BioArtists Public Lecture
Kuang Yi, Ku is a renowned bioartist in Taiwan. We invited him because his The Tiger Penis Project (2018) used synthetic biology methods to produce hybridized animal organs to replace the animal products used in traditional Chinese medicine. This art piece has shown how synthetic biology could be utilized to solve the conflict between endangered species in nature and traditional Chinese medicine culture. In the speech, he also shared many other artworks with the similar concept of using synthetic biology to solve the dilemma between culture and nature.
Dr. Gill Brown is a former geophysicist, now graphic designer and illustrator. Her work was to investigate scientific conceptual figures through graphic design practice, helping the scientist improve their visual communication. In the speech, she told us that she became a BioArtist because she noticed the importance of science communication, and that how science communication could be built up in an easy way but most of the scientists were ignoring it. The speech has also inspired us to launch an online BioArt exhibition on our own, as we wanted to demonstrate science communication is a part of scientists' responsibility. Furthermore, we improved our graphic design to strengthen our visual communication.
Yung Zheng, Yang & Zi Yan, Lin are BioArtitst who just participated in NTHU BioArt exhibition. They introduced the classic artwork of SynBioArt and their own creation of BioArtWork. Furthermore, they shared how their colleagues created LINE stickers of BioArtwork and its effect on social media.
We have a series of BioArt workshops. In the workshops, we introduced many important SynBio art pieces and led the participants to do their own art pieces. Aside from the creation, we also started the dialogue with the participants of how they think the future will be with the ongoing breakthrough in the field of synthetic biology, and whether they support the advance.
The volunteers joined our final joint BioArt sharing workshop with KCL, KCIS and NTHU_Taiwan to present their artwork, how they were inspired by the discussion in the workshop and the concepts behind the creation.
Online BioArt Exhibition
"Science communication is the responsibility of all scientists" To demonstrate the concept, we held an online BioArt Exhibition on our own and invited many iGEM teams to create their artwork.
Our team exhibits Digital Fluorescence in the art gallery.
The BioArt work Digital Fluorescence demonstrates the digital life of fluorescent protein. It is an interdisciplinary art piece, demonstrating the dialogue between art, synthetic biology and technology. The protein-mixing model we developed in our project for protein scaffold material simulation is used as a tool to create this art piece.
In the artpiece, every pixel of the image demonstrates the different color-mixing of RFP, GFP and BFP. We used the color-mixing model to turn the fluorescent into RGB value and visualize the protein expression by time. During the creation, we used synthetic biology tools to transform fluorescence genes in E. coli and conducted experiments to measure the protein expression. Then, we utilized the color-mixing model to conduct RGB extraction, adjustment and digital simulation. Eventually, we created Digital Fluorescence showing the digital life of fluorescent protein by time.
We utilized EdTech implements in our education plan, developing several education games to create more fun and accessible forms of learning. Through the method of gameschooling, the public understood our project better and engaged more in synthetic biology.
Virtual Homepage Game - Ubenefactrix
We designed a virtual game on our homepage to provide the visitor a quick insight into our project. In the game, the player has to work with the fox to help Dr. V to develop a versatile material by collecting the data of Ultrabithorax (Ubx) protein, using the model as a tool to analyze the sequence and utilizing the equipment in the lab.
Virtual Role Play Game - BioMaze
We used RPG maker to create an online virtual Role Play Game (RPG). In the RPG, the player represents an applicant of iGEM company. You will solve the obstacles to break through the levels by using the knowledge of synthetic biology, getting the job, and winning the game. Here we show the design of every level in the game.
Preface - It is the time when humans meet their biggest global crisis at the end of 23rd century. Many BioTechnology companies are springing up as people believe it is the only way to transform the world and save humans. Millions of applicants are putting their efforts into joining the company, but before that they have to breakthrough different levels of challenges the company designed. Players should now be revealing the content to others. Join the game below.
There are 4 levels of the game. In level 1, you are required to possess the understanding of the transcription of DNA and translation of RNA. In level 2, you are required to select the equipment needed according to the protocol of different experiments. In level 3, you are required to design target sequences by using biobricks provided, and choose the correct enzymes and restriction site. In level 4, you will find the fundamental biobricks and functional proteins to produce the required biomaterial.
Board Game - BioMaterial Battle
In this educational card game, players have to design biobricks and produce different multifunctional biomaterials to win the battle. The game contains 114 cards, a game board and a manual.
Preface - In the past few decades, the field of biomaterials has notably expanded. With the new Ubx, all the biotechnology companies are using it to develop multi-functional biomaterials through collaboration and competition. Meanwhile, all the companies are also bidding for Mr. Rabbie's funds for mass production.
In the game, players can learn the basic principle of synthetic biology and understand more about our project,Ubenefactrix. Before the game, players can scan the code on the guide book to watch our #Synthetic Biology Classroom. Pre-knowing that knowledge gives a player an advantage in the game. During the game, players are required to use 5 gene cards to form a biobrick, which are promoter, RBS, Ubx sequence, functional protein, terminator. Also, players can replace the functional protein that fused with Ubx to produce different functional biomaterials.
We displayed our board game to igem team GEMs_Taiwan during their visit in our lab in August. It helps a lot to explain our abstract concept of a biomaterial manufacturing platform. In addition, we found that it's the game strengthening team bonding and communication within or between iGEM teams.
Board Game - Super BioTech
Aside from board game Biomaterial Battle, we also developed an easier board game for beginners to understand the concept of biobricks.
Nowadays, with the rapid expansion of biotechnology, more and more companies are providing customized biological products. In this game, you will play the role of R&D personnel of a biotechnology company. You will develop products that meet customer needs by using the common biological building blocks (Biobricks) of synthetic biology. The board game is for 2-4 players.
#SynBio_Lecture Material & Education Events
We have developed lecture materials resources that are open to be downloaded online and carried out several school visits to engage highschool students.
As part of our science communication, we have developed an education package addressing high school students. The aim of the package is to arouse their curiosity in synthetic biology and provide them a deeper insight into its application by sharing our project. It is crucial that they integrate the knowledge of high-school biology and the application of synthetic biology, making connections to their life.
The package has been delivered in our education events. Also, to make the education more accessible, all the files and games can be downloaded by educators and students online. The education package incompasses:
- Lecture document: The document provides additional explanation to the lecture slide. It is organized around the basic principle of synthetic biology, providing the basic knowledge of gene design and experiment protocols.
- Lecture Slide: The lecture slides can be used in class. It summarizes the content in the lecture document.
We have implemented our education package in several school visits and engage youth in synthetic biology by those education events. The initial of our course design encompassed only an education package and discussion of bioethics. Following the reaction or response by the students, we improved and adjusted the course and here is our final course design.
First, we aroused students' curiosity by bacterial painting. The concept of drawing with E. coli was an innovative and cool experience, meanwhile it narrowed down the distance between synthetic biology and students.
Second, we delivered our education package to explain how we use synthetic biology tools to clone fluorescent genes into E. coli . Students really paid attention to the course because they wanted to know how E. coli sparkles in their artwork.
Third, we grouped the students and played the board game Biomaterial Battle we developed in our #EdTech_GameSchooling. They were able to review the principle of synthetic biology through the fun games.
Lastly, we led students to discuss bioethical issues such as “imagine the world with advant biotechnology”.
NYCU NanoScience Interdisciplinary camp
In order to bridge the gap between science and the public, especially the common misunderstanding of synthetic biology. We partnered with a camp for high school students which was held by NYCU. We also promote synthetic biology and our team’s project while addressing the problems faced by lecturers. In the end, we made the high school students who participated in the camp have a higher evaluation of the course, and we also successfully deepened the students' impression and interest in synthetic biology.
In July, we collaborated with the NYCU Undergraduate Honors Program of Nano Science and Engineering. The program holds a 2022 NanoScience Interdisciplinary camp for senior high school students. The camp has many courses including synthetic biology and tissue culture. We connect and collaborate with the 2020 iGEMer who is the team leader of 2020 NCTU_Formosa and the lecture of bio-course.
In the course on 7/1, the bio-course lecture Han-Yi, Huang has many challenges to face including students not knowing anything about synthetic biology. So, we connect with Mr. Huang and solve the problem by introducing the iGEM at the course on 7/2. After confirming the effect of putting iGEM into the course, Mr. Huang invites us to serve as the teaching assistant and support the course. We educate the students about Ubx protein and successfully arouse their interest in synthetic biology. The effect of the collaboration could be validated by the student's evaluation.
The camp also surveys to know the student's interests. At the question: Which course are you most impressed by? (Multiple choices), we find that many students were impressed with the bio-course.
Above all, we can find the significant effect of collaborating with iGEM to educate students. Mr. Huang also expresses thanks for our support and expects more collaboration in the future.