Let's Talk Science

In an effort to extend our reach into our university and city communities, the University of Ottawa iGEM Human Practices Team partnered up with Let's Talk Science for the 2014 season. Let's Talk Science is an award-winning, national organization that creates and delivers programs to engage youth and educators in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). As a team, we recognized that our interests as Policy and Practices overlapped with the interests of Let's Talk Science in educating youth about the possibilities that science, including the field of synthetic biology, brings. We established communication with the Ottawa Chapter of Let's Talk Science and a great partnership was established for the 2014 season.

Through our collaboration with LTS, we were able to set up an iGEM station at the Let’s Talk Science Challenge, an annual event that brings together a large group of students from Grades 6, 7 and 8. These students participate in a science trivia competition for the first half of the day and face-off in a design challenge later in the day. By setting up a station at this event in Ottawa, we were able to reach tens of elementary-aged students and introduce them to the concepts of synthetic biology in a fun and engaging manner (see below). In return, our iGEM Team members volunteered their time to help score both the trivia competition and the design challenge.

Our booth at the Let's Talk Science challenge, featuring Mr. Cool's Microscopic Adventures books (uOttawa iGEM Human Practices 2013), a Think Challenge that asked participating young students to think of the craziest idea synthetic biology could help us achieve and a bracelet-making activity that was based on a 'DNA code' where different colour beads represented the base pairs in amino acid codons.

Furthermore, in the context of this partnership, a few members of our Human Practices Team were able to participate in a training workshop offered by Let's Talk Science to improve their skills as youth science educators. This served to enhance our ability to communicate science concepts to the general public, specifically to a young audience.

As an established organization in the Ottawa community, Let's Talk Science had prior contact with elementary, middle and high schools across the city. They were able to advertise our offer of synthetic biology-oriented presentations to these schools and the response was huge and immediate.